RISING rugby star Gemma Sharples made the perfect start to her international career during England University's emphatic victory over Wales, writes Gary Porter.
Gemma, 22, who is a regular for Worcester in the English Premier Division, scored two tries during an impressive debut on the international stage.
The former Sutton High student from Cedar Avenue in Little Sutton only began training with her team-mates last month after being called up to represent her country back in December thanks to a series of dazzling displays for her club side.
Despite having to play in an un-familiar role Gemma, who is a second row for Worcester, was delighted to have made an immediate impact in her first game for England, who romped to a 47-5 victory at RAF Halton's stadium in Aylesbury.
She said: 'I was unsure whether I'd start, having not been selected before. So all I could do was try my best in training.
'There are 36 of us pushing for a place in a squad of 22 so I would have just been happy to have be in there but when the coach announced the team on the internet I was delighted.
'I was nervous about playing on the flank as it's not my natural position but I spoke to the coach and she just said go out there and perform like I had been in training.
'To then score two tries on my debut put the icing on the cake, especially as half my family travelled down to support me. I could hear them chanting 'Gemma' in the stands each time I scored.'
Her impressive start should make her a certain starter in the university team's encounter with Holland later this month as well as the clash with Sweden, which is expected to be scheduled soon.
Gemma, who completed her degree in Sports Conditioning and Coaching at the University of the West of England last summer, is currently doing a year of teacher training in Worcester.