Sasha Acheson has set her sights on a place in England Ladies’ Rugby World Cup squad after being handed her first international call-up.
The 22-year-old, from Lawshall, could be set to be given the opportunity to make her debut next month after claiming a berth in the 26-woman squad for their Autumn International Series against France and Canada.
With a chance to shine ahead of next year’s World Cup in France, the loosehead prop — the only uncapped player in the squad — is determined to carry on her impressive form with Premiership side Bristol that led to her selection.
“When I got the phone call I was completely gobsmacked, it is amazing,” she said.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in because I wasn’t expecting the call-up at all, but it is a massive compliment. I’m really excited.
“I thought the doors were shut on the World Cup squad, but now I’m determined to do my best and fulfil my potential.
“I have been given a chance to stake my claim and I’m going to grab it with both hands, embrace the experience and try and put my marker down.”
For Acheson, who is now based at University in Cardiff, the honour comes as just rewards for an arduous journey that has seen her fall back in love with rugby.
After enjoying a promising career as a junior with Sudbury and as part of the East Region County Pathway team, a lack of focus saw the then 18-year-old miss out on the final year of the England Under-20s squad, having previously been part of it.
That proved the catalyst and stints at Saracens and London South East followed before finding her true form with Bristol under the guidance of coach LJ Adams.
In her own words, Acheson ‘grew up’ there, sticking to strict individual regimes and impressing with her club to now be given the chance of redemption on the biggest stage.
“As I got older I turned away from rugby and fell off the radar a little,” she added.
“This summer I took the conscious decision to give myself the chance to be the player I can be and fulfil my potential.
“I’ve worked so hard over the last year and a bit and have lost more than three stone, which has helped me get to where I am now.
“I have never been happier and now all I want to do is keep achieving and not let anyone down if I’m given the chance.
“It is a dream come true, but I’m taking one step at a time — the real hard work starts now.”