Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Sarah Hunter captain as England Women’s Rugby World Cup squad named

England have named a squad of six survivors from their 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup triumph for their bid for the New Zealand crown this autumn.

Captain Sarah Hunter leads a 32-person field that also includes flankers Marlie Packer and Alex Matthews, prop Laura Keates, winger Lydia Thompson and center Emily Scarratt as past winners.

However, another star of 2014 failed to qualify, after veteran scrum-half Natasha Hunt was omitted in favor of Leanne Infante, Claudia MacDonald and Lucy Packer.

Head coach Simon Middleton has opted for a split of 19 forwards and 13 backs for a World Cup campaign which opens against Fiji in Auckland on October 8, with 19 players making their first appearances in the tournament.

England enter the event as heavy favorites after following their Grand Slam earlier this year by picking up 125 points in their two warm-up matches against the United States and Wales, extending their record of wins at 25 tests.

“First and foremost, I would like to start by thanking those who missed the selection,” Middleton said.

“There isn’t a single player in the whole squad who hasn’t given their all. No one has given less than their absolute best, they should be proud of their efforts throughout the campaign of the team to date.

“If between now and the tournament, or during the World Cup, we have to call someone up, we can do it with 100 per cent confidence that we are bringing a top player.

“I would like to say a big congratulations to those who have been part of the team. To win a selection means that you have done special things and that you have been outstanding in your training and performance candidacy.

“We are really confident with the balance of the team. I am happy with the way the team is gelling and the way our game is coming together. There is still a lot to work on, we hope to improve the game on game.”

Hunter is the team’s most capped player with 135 appearances and will be at her fourth World Cup, acting as skipper for three of them.

“While not singled out individuals, it would be remiss not to refer to our captain Sarah Hunter,” Middleton said.

“Sarah is a better captain now than she has ever been. She has been a captain and the way she represents the team on and off the pitch is absolutely brilliant.

“When you’ve worked with someone for so long sometimes you need to remind yourself of her exceptional attributes, she’s amazing the way she carries herself.

“His pride and love of representing his country is stronger than ever. He is a class player and we are very lucky to have him leading the team in this tournament.

England squad for the World Cup in New Zealand:

Forwards: Z Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury), S Bern (Bristol Bears), H Botterman (Saracens), S Brown (Harlequins), P Cleall (Saracens), A Cokayne (Harlequins), V Cornborough (Harlequins), L Davies (Bristol Bears ), R Galligan (Harlequins), S Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, captain), S Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning), L Keates (University of Worcester Warriors), A Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury), M Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury), C O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning), M Packer (Saracens), C Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury), M Talling (Loughborough Lightning), A Ward (Bristol Bears).

back : H Aitchison (Saracens), J Breach (Saracens), A Dow (Wasps), Z Harrison (Saracens), T Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury), L Infante (Saracens), E Kildunne (Harlequins), C MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs) , S McKenna (Saracens), L Packer (Harlequins), H Rowland (Loughborough Lightning), E Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning), L Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors).

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