Polkinghorne set for 99th cap with Westfield Matildas
She’s the quiet achiever who goes about her business with ruthless efficiency. And on Sunday, if selected, Claire Polkinghorne will hit 99 caps for the Westfield Matildas.
The Queenslander, aged 28, debuted 11 years ago and is now poised to hit her century early next year (most likely at the Algarve Cup).
On Sunday, against China PR, she's set to hit 99 in Geelong as the Matildas end an absolutely outstanding 2017.
Much has been made of the swashbuckling attack that’s ripped to shreds many of the world’s best defences in 2017, the Matildas defence has been just as important in the team’s rise.
“Polks”, as she’s known, has quietly marshalled the backline and is now an absolutely pivotal part of Alen Stajcic’s central defensive unit as 100 caps approach on her increasingly busy football horizon.
“It’s not something you every think about as a player. You just take any opportunity you can get.
“I was happy enough to play one game. But to be on the brink of 100 is a proud achievement but it’s not something I’ve set a goal to achieve,” she told https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.
Polkinghorne, who played her junior soccer for the Wynnum Wolves and Capalaba Bulldogs, debuted as a teenager 11 years ago for the Matildas, and now she’s passing on her accumulated experience to what is largely a youngish squad as they plan to take on the world in the coming years.
"I guess over the last three to four years we've had the same core group together. But we've progressed well as a team and [the younger players] have progressed well on and off the field and with the added experience of playing in overseas leagues and living away from home and the added responsibility that brings," she says.
The 2018 Asian Cup, 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics are all looming large for the world number six nation, who are maturing as a group at the right time.
But the defender - who has already hit 100 appearances in the W-League with Brisbane Roar - believes the Matildas are far from the finished product, with so much yet to be achieved.
"We set high standards for ourselves. And even the World Cup and Olympics and we haven't achieved everything we want to achieve yet.
"The next 12-18 months is a good time to really knuckle down and achieve our goals as a group. And with the players we've got we can definitely improve.
"We've matured as a group. A lot of our key players have been around for a while. And that's shown in our performances."