The Interview | Poppy Cleall
If you were looking for a Player of the Season in the PWR, you would have to look hard to find someone other than Poppy Cleall.
The industrious number 8 has been an all-action presence for her side this season, with a series of huge performances for her team. Having missed out on WXV due to injury, Ckeakk explained that her scintillating form has come after a renewed focus on her enjoyment of the game.
“I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment! This season, I want to be as impactful as I can on the pitch, whether that’s scoring, setting up others or putting in a tackle or a turnover that can give us momentum. I just want to focus on what I’m doing here at Sarries. I’m feeling confident in my performances, but I know that I can get better still.”
After a first loss of the season to Gloucester-Hartpury, Saracens returned to winning ways with a comprehensive victory over Trailfinders Women. Whilst the side were pleased with the result, Cleall admitted that they still have another level to go to.
“We were really pleased with how we responded to that loss in Gloucester against Trailfinders. We had a good week of training and put in a solid performance. We still want more though, and we know where we can make a step up again this weekend.”
Harlequins may not be in their familiar position towards the top end of the table, but Cleall is all too aware of the threats that they pose. After a commanding victory over Sale last weekend, she and her teammates know that Quins will be arriving in North London full of confidence.
“Everyone knows the threats that Harlequins bring. They might not be where they want to be in the table but as we saw against Sale, they are a dangerous side when there are in a confident mood. I’m expecting it to be a really tough test this afternoon.”
Matches between Saracens and Harlequins have long been the benchmark in elite women’s rugby. Whilst new sides have to the fore in recent seasons, Cleall admits that there is still something special about taking on her side’s London rivals.
“It’s always a big one playing against Quins. It always adds an extra dynamic to the game whenever we go up against each other. At the end of the day, once we’re on the pitch, we all focus on that, but I’m sure there’ll be a bit of banter whilst we do it!
The build-up to the match has seen a series of viral videos from the club, including a Confessions Booth, where Cleall admitted to owning a Harlequins shirt!
As the number 8 laughed though, it was done to support her sister, despite the negative feedback she had received!
“Look, in my defence, it had my name on the back, and it wasn’t that expensive!! I’ve only ever worn it when I’ve been supporting Bryony playing for Quins. Trust me, I’m Sarries through and through, but I do apologise for buying it!”