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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
England convert walks tall
By Bryn Palmer

England lock Jenny Sutton wins a line-out in their World Cup opener against USA
Sutton's nickname is TJ - "Tall Jenny" - for obvious reasons
One Canadian has already played for England in a World Cup this summer, and ended it with his reputation transformed.

But whereas Owen Hargreaves and the rest of the footballers came home empty-handed, Jenny Sutton hopes to return from her native country with the Women's Rugby World Cup.

"Our chances couldn't be better," she told BBC Sport. "The squad has improved, we had a great Six Nations (a Grand Slam) and our preparations have gone very well. This is the opportunity for us."

Sutton, from Vancouver, could have been turning out for Canada when the hosts opened the tournament against favourites New Zealand on Thursday.

But four years after arriving in London and joining the thriving women's section at Richmond, rejection by her country of birth brought a change of heart and a new career.

"I was still intending to play for Canada at the '98 World Cup, but they dropped me from the squad before it started," she explained.

"Then I went to watch it (in Amsterdam) instead, and England played Canada and beat them by a lot of points, and I was inspired by the performance.

I am probably the most emotionally patriotic one in the England squad

Jenny Sutton
"I suddenly thought 'I am settled in England, and they are the team I want to play for'. So when I got back I changed my allegiance and declared myself for England."

Eight years later, with 48 England caps to her name, Sutton is back on Canadian soil, determined to help her adopted country match the men's triumph of 2003.

The 6ft 1in lock was in the second row as England opened their campaign with an 18-0 win over the USA on Thursday, with further group games against South Africa (4 Sep) and France (8 Sep) to follow.

Beyond that, Canada, seeded fourth, are potential semi-final opponents, but Sutton is only concerned with the bigger picture - winning the tournament.

"I have been playing for England for a long time now, and have gone back to Canada and played against them before so there are no issues there for me," she said.

"I don't even call it my homeland any more. I have been in England for 12 years, and I am probably the most emotionally patriotic one in the squad!

"My ideal would be to win the World Cup at home, at Twickenham, but I don't care where it is as long as we win it."

England lock Jenny Sutton at her office in the City of London
Sutton will return to her work as a project manager after the WRWC
For the 36-year-old Sutton, a former national basketball champion in Canada before switching to rugby, it is also a final opportunity as retirement beckons.

When she pitched up at Richmond in 1994, "TJ" - "it stands for Tall Jenny, because when I first arrived there were a lot of Jennys" - only intended to stay in London for a year.

"But I got a job, met a guy, settled down, all that stuff, and basically decided to stay forever really," she recalled.

Sutton works in the City of London for investment bank JP Morgan, who have allowed her to work part-time, three days a week, for the two years leading up to the tournament.

She has also taken three months' unpaid leave to cover England's pre-World Cup training camps, the tournament itself, and what she hopes will be a well-deserved holiday afterwards to visit her family in Vancouver.

"I have put my heart and soul into this," Sutton added.

"You can only do this sort of thing once in your life, and I am giving up altogether after the World Cup. Hopefully 17 September (the final) will be the last time I put on my boots."

SEE ALSO
Women's World Cup set for action
29 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
England women name World Cup team
29 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
England set sights on world crown
23 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
England Women announce Cup squad
03 Jul 06 |  Internationals
England Women clinch Grand Slam
18 Mar 06 |  Internationals


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