England have selected 16 members of their Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 squad for their three Test series with world champions New Zealand, the first of them at Twickenham after the Australia v Barbarians match on 26 November.
The two sides last met in a thrilling Women’s Rugby World Cup Final at the Twickenham Stoop, which the Black Ferns edged 13-10 to claim a fourth successive title, three of them after beating England in the title decider.
England coach Gary Street has welcomed back the likes of Maggie Alphonsi, Danielle Waterman and captain Katy McLean to the squad after seeing a youthful outfit lose the two Test series with France earlier this month.
Two young players who made their England debut in France have been rewarded with a place in the squad to face New Zealand in Hannah Gallagher and Alexandra Matthews, the younger sister of England international Fran Matthews who scored on her debut.
A thrilling series
“Barring a handful of injuries I have been able to select the core squad from last year’s [Women’s] Rugby World Cup,” explained Street, whose side ran out 10-3 winners when England and New Zealand met at Twickenham in November 2009.
“This means we have a lot of experience in the side as well as a lot of potential through our younger players. We have got some exciting new caps in Alexandra Matthews and Hannah Gallagher who did an excellent job against France and certainly did enough to cement their place in this squad.
“I am sure for our experienced players there is the matter of unfinished business against New Zealand. In the World Cup final we didn’t play to our potential and I know the players will want to put that right against New Zealand in our first game at Twickenham Stadium.”
New Zealand may not have played a Test since their World Cup success in England, but Street is not taking the world champions lightly, despite his side having added the Women’s Six Nations and Nations Cup titles to their honour roll.
“New Zealand’s international record is second to none, they always turn up and I am not expecting anything less for this series. Like us they too have a strong World Cup contingent in their squad as well as some young players, which is really going to set up this series to be a thriller.”
England squad for New Zealand series
Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens), Rachael Burford (Richmond), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), Laura Keates (Worcester), La Toya Mason (Wasps), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), Kat Merchant (Worcester), Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Claire Purdy (Wasps), Alice Richardson (Richmond), Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Michaela Staniford (Wasps), Amy Turner (Richmond), Tamara Taylor(Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Danielle Waterman (Worcester), Kay Wilson (Richmond).