Sarah McKenna’s seamless switch from sevens back to the XVs game helped push Saracens Women to the Tyrrells Premier 15s title, according to teammate Bryony Cleall.

They retained their domestic crown by beating Harlequins Ladies 33-17 last month and their regular full-back has been at the heart of it all.

McKenna, also able to fill in at fly-half of centre, has had a stellar year for club and country, as she started all five games as England won the Grand Slam in the Women’s Six Nations – including a try against Ireland in February.

Now she has some personal silverware to show for it, having been chosen as the Imagine Cruising Professional Women’s Player of the Year.

McKenna was unable to collect her prize at The Rugby Paper Awards as she is currently on England duty as they prepare to face the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, but teammate Cleall picked it up on her behalf and spoke about her in glowing terms.

“Sarah has been so consistent for Sarries and England this season,” Cleall said.

“Coming from sevens to XVs this year she has been the epitome of a professional player.

“She found her feet really quickly and fitted into our environment really well.

“She has made the No.15 jersey her own, with line breaks and the way she carries the ball.

“Sarah brings some international class to our Saracens side; she brings a great deal of knowledge to our backline and shares it with them at training on game day.

“She says she is in the perfect position at full-back to scan and see what’s going on in the game.

“Sarah is so consistent and it’s brilliant when you’re playing to know she’s there and able to provide that.”

McKenna was one of a dozen players and officials honoured at the inaugural awards, which took place at The Stoop – home of Premiership side Harlequins.

Some luminaries of the men’s game, James Haskell and Danny Cipriani included, were recognised alongside grassroots heroes.

Back-rower Cleall, currently on the mend from a broken leg suffered in March, knows McKenna is a standard bearer on the training field as well as leading the side on the pitch.

“I know she has really enjoyed the season with us,” she added.

“She summarises the way we play by being so good at her job.

“We’ve come close to losing some games this season but players like Sarah take the lead with helping us dig in and helping us push to be successful.

“I always prefer having her on my team because when I play against her in training I can’t catch her, with the step and gas that does for most of us!”

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