A squad of 28 players will travel to New Zealand on 2 June for the Red Roses’ three-Test tour against Australia, Canada and the Black Ferns.
Sarah Hunter, who led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam win earlier this year, again captains the side, which includes two players returning from absences. Emily Braund (Lichfield) and Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) are both named, having been side-lined since the 2016 Six Nations.
England kick-off their International Women’s Series campaign against Australia in Wellington (9 June), before taking on Canada in Christchurch (13 June) and the Black Ferns in Rotorua four days later. The final match in Rotorua will be a curtain-raiser for the British & Irish Lions game against the Maori All Blacks. All three games will be livestreamed via worldrugby.org.
15 of the 28 players were named in England’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning squad, with no uncapped names in the side.
Head coach Simon Middleton says it is a great opportunity for his squad to test themselves against the best sides in the world ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August.
Middleton said: “With the World Cup just around the corner, this tour provides an excellent opportunity for us to test ourselves in an unfamiliar environment, against some of the leading teams in the world. The tight turnaround of games replicates the World Cup schedule, and we expect to encounter a great atmosphere in New Zealand, which will provide players with the best possible preparation for Ireland in August.
“The squad have been training together for the last six weeks and, while it will be important to get the travel out of their legs on arrival in time for the first game, I am looking forward to seeing players translate their hard work in training into first-class performances on the pitch.”
Claire Allan (Saracens), Poppy Cleall (Bristol), Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries), Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls), and Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol) have been ruled out of selection as a result of injury.
Middleton added: “Sadly Laura Keates will miss the Women’s Rugby World Cup after sustaining a long-term injury in training. It is a great loss to the squad after she played such a vital role throughout the Six Nations and we all greatly feel for her. The other four players will be working hard with our excellent medical team back in England to ensure they are in the best possible shape to put their hands up for World Cup selection when we return next month.”
Sarah Bern (Bristol), Emily Braund (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Bristol), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Alex Matthews (Richmond), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Megan Jones (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Sarah McKenna (Saracens), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Emily Scott (Saracens), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Kay Wilson (Richmond)
England Women fixtures, International Women’s Rugby Series
Friday 9 June – Porirua Park, Wellington (KO 1.30am BST)
Australia v England Women
Tuesday 13 June – Rugby Park, Christchurch (KO 1.30am BST)
Canada v England Women
Saturday 17 June – Rotorua International Stadium (KO 5.30am BST)
New Zealand v England Women
Report courtesy of England Rugby