- England Women name 26-strong squad for Nations Cup in Toronto
- Five newcomers step up from European Trophy England A campaign
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Captain Katy McLean and flanker Maggie Alphonsi headline the England Women’s squad to compete in the Nations Cup in Toronto, Ontario from the July 31 to August 14.
There was no tournament last year due to the Women’s World Cup so England, as 2009 winners, will defend their title against the USA, Canada and South Africa.
After impressive performances for England A in the European Trophy, Victoria Fleetwood, Natasha Hunt, Sarah McKenna and Kay Wilson are named in the squad and along with Laura Keates, who missed the Euros due to injury, could win their first senior caps.
The five newcomers join a squad of experienced players – including 2009 Women’s Rugby World Cup finalists Emily Scarratt, Sarah Hunter and Danielle Waterman – who this year added their sixth successive 6 Nations title to their list of achievements when they won the Grand Slam.
England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street is keen to make the most of the development opportunity which the Nations Cup offers.
Photo: Getty Images
"The five new caps have a lot of potential for a great future. This tournament allows them to step up without the stress of it being a 6 Nations or World Cup," he said.
"While we want to win this tournament, our focus to be on performance and their development. The senior players have an important role to play in this.
"USA and Canada finished well in the World Cup and South Africa, who now also have the experience of that tournament under their belts, are developing all the time. It was certainly no easy contest when we played them back in 2009.
"Our priority will be to work on positional units and maintaining a structured attack under pressure. When you play against very physical defensive teams such as Canada and the USA you have to work at a high level of attack so the Nations Cup is a great opportunity to develop this aspect of our game."