Player in Focus: Danielle Waterman

When she takes to the field for the Red Roses in Ireland next month, Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman will be playing in her fourth Rugby World Cup. It is a testament to her enduring class, and her grit and determination after overcoming a serious knee injury a few years back, that she is still such a vital part of this England team. 

Vital Stats:

Position: Full-back
Caps: 70
Points: 205 (41 tries)
Debut: 2003 (v Ireland)
Club Team: Bristol
Age: 32


Running: Waterman’s running game is one of her strongest assets – she’s very much an attacking full-back and likes to run the ball back at the opposition rather than kick it. And with her lightning-quick footwork, she’s able to beat players and find gaps, often breaking the line and making plenty of metres.

Tackling: As a full-back, Waterman’s the last line of defence, so her tackling has to be well-timed and effective enough to bring down a player in full flight and acres of space. Luckily for the Red Roses, Waterman is a fearless tackler and throws herself whole-heartedly into challenges. She’s also very technically sound, going low and wrapping the legs, which means her tackles are much more likely to bring the ball-carrier down rather than merely slow them up – this example from the France game in this year’s Six Nations is a fantastic try-saving tackle.

Another aspect of Waterman’s tackling is her strength. In this example, she dominates the contact and manages to drive the French player (who is rather bigger than she is) backwards, and while Waterman doesn’t bring her down, she’s still slowed her up enough to enable her team-mates time to come in and help get the player to ground. She’s deceptively strong for her size and certainly makes her tackles count, going in low and driving hard – again, she’s a very technically sound tackler.

Scoring: As any back three player will attest, scoring tries is what they love to do and Waterman has certainly had lots of practice. With 41 tries in 70 tests for the Red Roses she’s got a phenomenal strike-rate (on a par with the great Jonah Lomu) and she’s scored some crackers in her time, including this one in 2010.

In defence and attack Danielle Waterman is a handful. Give her an inch of space and she’ll step past you and hare off down the pitch, break the line and she’ll come flying out of nowhere to bring you crashing down to earth. She’s a fearless defender, her footwork’s superb and she knows her way to the try line. One thing’s for certain, you don’t want to mess with Nolli.


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