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Versatile Mueller happy to cover all bases with Lightning

With her standout performance in Loughborough’s last game, Maja Mueller showed she is a player Lightning can rely upon to produce in more than one position.

The Sweden international’s showing was one of several positives to emerge out of the 39-17 defeat against a strong Harlequins side at the Stoop, where she scored two of Lightning’s three tries.

Most impressively, it was Mueller’s first start for the Club at hooker – a position she has provided cover for before, while mostly featuring in the back row.

Lark Davies’ departure last summer meant Loughborough required help in the middle of the front row, and all the responsibility that comes with it, and Mueller was delighted in how she rose to the challenge against the Allianz Premier 15s champions of two seasons ago.

She said: “I was a bit nervous before because it was my first ever start at hooker, but I usually say nerves are good.

“I was feeling pretty confident going into the game as well and I ended up having a good game because I just felt confident.

“That helped me a lot and with the throwing the other girls in the line-out helped.”

Not surprisingly, given her usual position, Mueller was a dynamic force in the front row at Harlequins, but it was actually in the backline where she displayed her pace at the start of her career.

Mueller said: “I covered hooker a bit last season as well, though it’s a bit funny because when I was still playing in Sweden, I started on the wing but then I was moved into the forwards.

“I was back row for a bit, then hooker for a bit, but when I moved to England I moved back into the back row, but because they knew I could cover at hooker all options were on for me.

“It’s just what we need at the moment and, really, I just want to play and I know I’ve got the right skill set to be in the back row and play at hooker, so it was definitely exciting to get my first start at hooker.”

February is proving to be a full-on month for Mueller, who is set to return to Allianz Premier 15s action for Loughborough against Sale Sharks on Saturday, with that match falling between two Tests with her country.

Last Sunday, Mueller featured for Sweden at No.8, in a team captained by her club colleague Amanda Swartz, as they were defeated 38-12 by the Netherlands in Amsterdam in the Women’s European Championship.

It was the Swedes’ first match at that level in a decade, after they earned promotion by winning last year’s European Trophy, and they have another Test against Spain to look forward to in Alicante next week.

On how women’s rugby in her country has progressed in recent years, Mueller said: “For a number of years, we didn’t really have any Test matches.

“We didn’t really have any consistency in a 15s programme, but then when Claire Cruickshank and Tamara Taylor stepped in, they really created a good platform for us to build on.

“They’ve just set up a new programme and it’s helped us a lot and we have a pretty good squad now.”

Before she does head off to Spain, Mueller will be aiming to play a part, in whatever position she is picked, in helping Lightning to victory over Sale at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

That match forms the second part of a Double Header at the venue this weekend, after Northampton Saints face the Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership.

Mueller said: “I’m really excited. We stepped up massively in the Harlequins game, but I think we’ve got even more to give.

“We need a win and we just need to perform and execute our game plan, and if we do we feel the win will be ours.”

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