ENGLAND captain Katy McLean wants to remain at Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, despite her impending move south to become a full-time athlete with the Rugby Football Union.
After leading England to World Cup glory in Paris ten days ago, South Shields fly-half McLean signed a full-time contract with the RFU along with 19 other players, who will be paid to represent their country for the very first time.
The move is aimed at the England Sevens squad that will compete on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit in a bid to qualify for Great Britain for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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The RFU’s decision to make the squad professional is a huge step forward for the women’s game, but it means McLean will have to quit her job as a teacher at Bexhill Primary School in Sunderland.
The squad will train five days a week at Twickenham Stadium and Surrey Sports Park in Guildford from next month, but while she is giving up one career for another, McLean insists her move will not signal the end of her time at Sharks.
“I definitely still want to play international 15s and I definitely still want to play club 15s,” the 28-year-old said.
“It’s a massive part of our game and I think it would be silly to focus solely on sevens. I will have to negotiate with the club, because I will be based in Surrey, but I’ve got no intention of leaving Darlington. I’ll just have to negotiate a bit of travel!
“It’s massive for women’s sport to have been given professional contracts. As rugby players we want to be professional athletes and now we’ve got the opportunity to do that.
“This was going on during the World Cup, negotiating contracts and everything that comes with it. It’s a massive opportunity. I’ve had so much support and I love my job.
“It’s been a massive decision to make, do I stay as a teacher or do I become a full-time athlete? But the option to go to the Olympics in Rio is something you can’t turn down. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
McLean was at The Northern Echo Arena yesterday to promote next year’s men’s World Cup in England following the announcement that Mowden will host world champions New Zealand during the tournament.
The All Blacks will spend six days in Darlington preparing for their final group game against Tonga at St James’ Park on October 9, in a tournament England will be looking to emulate their female counterparts by winning.
The women’s 21-9 final win over Canada secured the team’s first World Cup since 1994 and McLean admits it is now over to Stuart Lancaster’s side to repeat their success.
She said: “I saw Stuart after the game and I said to him “no pressure”. The 20s boys are world champions and now the women are so it’s up to the guys to follow.
“That’s the best bit about sport and you look how far British sport has come in recent years. That’s what it should be like. We should be aspiring to be world champions because by doing that you’re going to change the mentality of the next generation and the one after that.
“We’re really lucky to have had Stuart come in and do some work with us before we went to the World Cup. They’ve given us a lot of support and we also want them to do well. Stuart’s culture is about creating that and it’s about making it one big family.”
*Tickets for the Rugby World Cup 2015 go on sale to the general public via an application window which opens on September 12 and closes on September 29, 2014.
Tickets will be priced in four categories, with some matches starting at £15 for adults and £7 for children. Any match or price category that is oversubscribed will go to a ballot to ensure that tickets are fairly allocated. Fans will be advised of their successful allocation in October 2014.
Tickets will be sold through the official Rugby World Cup 2015 ticketing website. In order to apply for tickets from September 12 fans need to CREATE AN ACCOUNT at tickets.rugbyworldcup.com. Simply go to the website and enter your details.