Long-serving Sharks Katie Houghton, Nicola Howat and Alex Wallace among five to leave after the club’s best ever Premier15s finish
American internationals Joanna Kitlinksi and Carly Waters also depart.
Sale Sharks Women can confirm the departures of five players – including three of the club’s ‘original’ Sharks – following the end of the Allianz Premier15s season.
Katie Houghton, Nicola Howat and Alex Wallace, who all joined the club when the women’s team was formed in 2020, will leave along with American internationals Joanna ‘Jojo’ Kitlinski and Carly Waters.
Forward Katie is retiring after making more than 50 appearances for Sharks, while lock Nicola is returning to Scotland after playing 46 times. Utility back-turned-flanker Alex has played 20 times for the club and will leave to continue with her teaching career.
Hooker Jojo joined Sale Sharks Women from Premier15s rivals Exeter Chiefs in February 2022, making her debut off the bench against Harlequins.
And scrum-half Carly joined from Saracens ahead of the 2022/23 Premier15s season. She is one of the most decorated US internationals, playing for the U20s side in 2016, USA collegiate all Americans in 2017/2018 and then the full national side from 2018.
Sale Sharks women’s performance coach Rachel Taylor paid tribute to all five departing players.
On Katie Houghton:
She said: “We’re so sad to be losing Katie this year, she’s given an outstanding contribution to this club. Her off-pitch contribution will be massively missed as one of our senior leaders and role models. We wish her all the best in retirement and to enjoy her time with the family.”
On Joanna Kitlinksi:
She said: “Jojo has been such great addition to our team, her athleticism and physicality will be missed as well as her off field baking skills. We’re all looking forward to seeing what life holds next for her.”
“She’s given so much so much commitment to rugby throughout the years and I’m sure she’s looking forward to getting home and having family time.”
On Carly Waters:
She said: “Carly showed a real demand for excellence and standards which massively helped us raise our training intensity levels which I hope we can continue in her absence. We wish her the very best in her next move and with the big year ahead.”
On Nicola Howat:
She said: “Nic has had one of the best seasons in the Sharks kit this year despite juggling a very demanding job away from the pitch. She’s been a consistent performer throughout the years, and we wish her the best in her return to Scotland and family life.
On Alex Wallace:
She said: “After having a very tough season with injury Alex has shown her passion and drive to return to fitness, sadly just missing out on the end of season games.
“We understand just how much she’s put in to getting back and fully support her shift of focus to her work life and her new job. I’ve no doubt she’ll be an inspiration to her students and continue to promote female sports to the next generation.