Roker Report: Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us about new signing, Brianna Westrup. First of all, what kind of player is Westrup and what would you say is her playing style?
Chris Marshall: It was a surprise to learn the news that Brianna Westrup wasn’t having her contract renewed. She arrived as a bit of an unknown quantity having moved from Newcastle United in the English lower leagues but, fitness permitting, she was a near ever present and was captain as Rangers won a first ever SWPL title last season.
She got her first Scotland cap while at the Glasgow club and was clearly viewed as a leader in the Rangers dressing room.
Kar Garr: Bri was our centre back, but played very attacking football. Defensively very solid who would chase every ball and not scared of a tackle. For set plays she would always be up and got a fair few crucial goals for us.
RR: Any strengths or weaknesses which Sunderland fans should keep an eye out for?
CM: Her greatest assets lie in her strength and physicality. She’s unrepentant in the tackle - she will shoot for the ball, but have no qualms about leaving an impression on the opposition along the way. At Rangers she would usually be the centre back to sit back as the eventual champions would regularly dominate games, with Chantelle Swaby and Demi Vance more comfortable in coming forward in possession.
She’s also strong in the air, defensively and from attacking set plays and has a presence that stood out in the SWPL. She’s not the quickest and pace can be a weapon to use against her but she is usually in the right place at the right time.
KG: For her strengths, she was very vocal and sharp on her feet in terms of winning ball and clearing lines. Reading the play well and had good vision to cut a pass out or move to tackle. The only things in regards to weaknesses, is that she did struggle with some niggles at times and her pace sometimes was lacking.
RR: There was a very strong reaction from Rangers fans following the announcement of her leaving and joining Sunderland. What did the fans think of Westrup?
CM: A solid, no-nonsense defender that almost every Rangers fan would have been happy to see stay.
KG: Bri was a fan favourite, very personable and had time for anyone. Honestly the loveliest girl you could meet who gave her all to the club at every turn including buying into certain cultures at the club. We were honestly gutted to see her go after leading us to our first title without losing a league game.
RR: And lastly, how do you think Westrup will adjust to the Barclay’s Championship and impact Sunderland?
CM: It will be an interesting transition as the SWPL and the English Championship feels like leagues trending in the same direction quality wise, and there have been a number of transfers both ways this summer.
KG: I don’t see Bri struggling to adjust to the league having played in England prior at Newcastle (not sure how that will go down with the fans) and in America as well as the Scottish national team.
She will run through a brick wall for any team she plays for and don’t see that being any different with Sunderland. As long as she’s got the right partner beside her in the team defensively she will add a solid back line to your team.