Women’s Six Nations 2024: Hannah Botterman is over her injury problems and is thriving for England

Home » Women’s Six Nations 2024: Hannah Botterman is over her injury problems and is thriving for England

The best ability is availability.

England prop Hannah Botterman has hit some of her best career form under new coach John Mitchell during the Women’s Six Nations.

The 24-year-old has scored two tries in England’s three victories and has made more than 170 metres with ball in hand, benefiting from consistent starts.

Since her Red Roses debut as an 18-year-old, Botterman was seen as a potential long-term starter, but the prop has been held back by a knee injury sustained at the World Cup in 2022, and further injury issues at last year’s WXV tournament.

“I have had good stints at club level, but this is the first tournament that I have had a bit of consistency in playing as well as my performance,” Botterman told BBC Sport.

“The thing that has always held me back in the last two or three years has been the consistency of availability to play and being fit.

“You can’t play your best rugby if you are not even available to play.”

Heading into the World Cup semi-final against Canada, Botterman was in line to start before an injury the day before the game ruled her out of the competition.

Vickii Cornborough, who was England’s regular starting prop, stepped away from international rugby when she found out she was pregnant after the World Cup final defeat by New Zealand, before deciding to retire from international rugby earlier this month.

That has opened the door for Botterman to gain more regular starts, while a move to Bristol Bears from Saracens before the start of this season has offered a new environment to learn.

“Vickii has not been around for a while now and that was helpful in terms of getting more game time,” Botterman added.

“It is a bit of luck [to avoid injuries], but I have also worked extremely hard and I think being in good shape and physically fit makes a massive difference.

“Since moving to Bristol, that has been a real aim of mine to not just be the classic ‘she has rugby talent’ but might not be necessarily the fittest there is.

“I am really trying to go after that fitness side of things and being in the best shape possible to perform and keep performing to have more impact in games.”

New attacking style suits Botterman

England’s maul, which helped them dominate the Six Nations and reach the World Cup final in 2022, was their main weapon under former head coach Simon Middleton.

Under Mitchell, the Red Roses have moved towards playing with a higher tempo in attack to score a wider variety of tries, which suits Botterman, who prides herself on her physical ball carrying skills.

“Mitch has come in as he has got his way that he wants to play – and it is exciting and we get our hands on the ball a bit more as opposed to a lot of kick chasing that we used to do, which isn’t really my bag,” the 24-year-old added.

“The plan is still to be the most dominant pack that there is. We will never come away from that. If we get opportunities to take it into the corner and drive them over for tries, that is not something we are not trying to come away from at all – that is our DNA.

“Just the style of play has changed massively. We used to play more of a territory game whereas now we have more of a licence to play if we think it is on, which therefore means we get more hands on ball.”

The Red Roses remain on course to secure a third successive Grand Slam and a sixth successive Six Nations title and welcome Ireland to Twickenham on Saturday, with a crowd of more than 45,000 expected.

“Playing at Twickenham is the pinnacle of any English player’s career. When you get the chance to do that, you all want to perform,” Botterman added.

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