England Women head coach Craig Richards has included seven newcomers in his 29-player England Women Performance Squad (EWPS) for 2020, as well announcing a 10-player England Women Knights Performance Squad (EWKPS) as they build towards the 2021 World Cup.
Uncapped Leeds quartet Abigail Eatock, Natasha Gaines, Fran Goldthorp and Chloe Kerrigan, who were all part of the Rhinos’ squad who won the Women’s Super League and Challenge Cup titles last year, are included, as is Warrington Wolves’ Roxanne Murdoch.
St Helens’ Paige Travis and Castleford Tigers’ Lacey Owen are also included in the EWPS for the first time while Carrie Roberts of the British Army returns to the squad having played for England in 2015.
The EWKPS will run for the first time under the leadership of former England Women International Lois Forsell, who has been appointed Leeds Rhinos head coach for 2020, and Paul Sculthorpe, the EPU Pathways Coach, with a view to increasing the squad from the 10 players named.
Richards said: “We felt it was important to name our squads despite the current circumstances to maintain some normality and to ensure the players know where they are in terms of our planning going forward.
“Even though we aren’t meeting and training as a group we have been conducting a number of webinars and online sessions throughout this difficult period which have allowed us to maintain contact and guide the squad.
“Our Athletic Performance Coach Stacey Emmonds has provided the players with training programmes to ensure they’re staying as near to peak fitness as possible despite the current limitations on training.
“Yesterday’s announcement regarding the potential scenarios for a return of the Betfred Women’s Super League included a mini pre-season of three or four weeks which is something we would look to tap into as a Performance Unit.”
“We have named a base of ten players in our Knights squad, but this is with a view to expanding throughout 2020. The girls who have been selected now have something to work towards while we have a long list of potential candidates who could bolster that squad further down the line.”
England Women’s captain Emily Rudge added: “Although this is going to be one of the strangest rugby seasons we have ever had, we are lucky that the talent development squad spent so much time together at the start of the year.
“In January and February we trained every weekend and then played three (Yorkshire v Lancashire) Origin games, so Craig and the other coaching staff have had a good amount of time to see all the players and make a selection for the England and Knights squads.
“I’m looking forward to the season starting up again. 2021 is going to be such a massive year for rugby league and I think it’s important we get as many games in as possible before the end of the year to ensure we are in the best shape possible for the 2021 season and for the Women’s World Cup.”
England Women Performance Squad: Dannielle Anderson, Caitlin Beevers, Abigail Eatock, Natasha Gaines, Fran Goldthorpe, Amy Johnson, Chloe Kerrigan, Shannon Lacey (all Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke, Chantelle Crowl, Jodie Cunningham, Tara Jones, Victoria Molyneux, Emily Rudge, Paige Travis, Naomi Williams (all St Helens), Grace Field, Kelsey Gentles, Shona Hoyle, Lacey Owen, Sinead Peach, Georgia Roche, Tara Jane Stanley (all Castleford Tigers), Rebecca Greenfield, Rachel Thompson, Georgia Wilson (all Wigan Warriors), Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls), Roxette Murdoch (Warrington Wolves), Carrie Roberts (British Army).
England Women Knights Performance Squad:
Keara Bennett, Elle Frain, Sophie Nuttall, Ellie Oldroyd (all Leeds Rhinos), Jasmine Cudjoe, Hollie Mae Dodd, Tamzin Renouf (all Castleford Tigers), Tara Moxon, Aallisha Rhodes (both Wakefield Trinity), Isabel Bibby (Huddersfield Giants).