YORK Valkyrie’s Lacey Owen was lost for words after marking her England debut with a try on Saturday lunchtime.

The second-rower, who has enjoyed a stellar season with York, could hardly have wished for a better way to start her international career than with a try less than five minutes after coming off the bench.

But that is exactly what happened at Headingley, Owen meeting a pass from teammate Tara-Jane Stanley to crash over into the right corner amid a flurry of second-half tries in a 60-0 rout of Wales.

“I’m actually quite speechless,” she told Forty20 after the final whistle. 

“I think that I’ve felt overwhelmed all week being in the camp with all the experienced senior players and leaders, it’s all that I’ve wanted to do since I was young.

“But I’m really happy to be here!

“With the Valkyrie, we’ve had a great season in 2023, and getting the call-up midway through the season to come and play for Stu’s [Barrow, England head coach] team, hopefully I’ve done it justice.”

As for the try itself, the young talent believes that Stanley deserves the credit for her bullet cut-out pass in her direction.

“I’ll probably give the credit to Tara for that!” she laughed. 

“But you’ve still got to score it, so a try is a try and I’ll take it!”

York Press: Owen celebrates after scoring minutes into her England debut.Owen celebrates after scoring minutes into her England debut. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Owen returned to the England camp after a three-year hiatus fresh from agreeing professional terms with the Valkyrie - taking the number of contracts handed out by chairman Clint Goodchild to 12.

She was joined on the pitch by York teammates Sinead Peach, Tamzin Renouf, Stanley and Liv Wood for England, whilst winger Georgia Taylor lined up on the wing for Wales.

And the 23-year-old believes that their support has only inspired her to perform to a higher level.

“[Having four York teammates in the England squad], it makes you comfortable,” she admitted.

“Everybody from every different team has made me feel a part of this squad, but the York girls especially, they’ve pushed me and said that I can be here today because I deserve it.

“It’s been amazing. The girls have been unreal, comforting and made me feel welcome and a part of the squad. 

“That’s probably why I’ve been able to perform, because they’ve made me feel like I belong here.”

York Press: Six Valkyrie featured across the contest, whilst Hollie Mae Dodd and Jas Bell turned out in their support.Six Valkyrie featured across the contest, whilst Hollie Mae Dodd and Jas Bell turned out in their support. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Whilst Owen was making her international bow, Saturday’s emphatic win against Wales marked an achievement of a different kind for St Helens and England captain Jodie Cunningham.

The loose forward made her 30th international appearance at Headingley, moving her further clear into second on the list of her country’s all-time female appearance makers.

With an ever-emerging cycle of young talent and a growing following for the women’s game in Britain, Owen admits that she has to continue to perform to the best of her ability if she wants to maintain her place in the England set-up. 

“To be like Jodie, I’ve probably got to work even harder. It gets harder every time as there’s always new people coming into the squad. 

“There’s a lot of potential in every single squad so I’ll just have to keep working harder and working my way to the starting 13 one day.”