- McLean returns to skipper England
- England take on world champions over three back-to-back Tests
Photo Credit: Getty Images
England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has named an experienced side for Friday’s three-match series opener against world champions New Zealand, kick off 730pm at Esher RFC.
England, who will also play the Black Ferns on November 27 at Aldershot Army Rugby Stadium and December 1 at Twickenham Stadium, will be led by Darlington Mowden Park Sharks fly half Katy McLean and vice-captain Sarah Hunter.
England also welcome back several experienced names, including Katherine Merchant, Emily Scarratt, Marlie Packer and Michaela Staniford who are all named in the starting line-up.
The return of Merchant, Scarratt, Staniford and McLean, who were all rested for England’s 23-13 victory over France earlier this month, provides England with a well-established backline as they join the experienced duo of Alice Richardson and Danielle Waterman. All six players featured in the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup while scrum-half Natasha Hunt has become a regular starter in the number nine jersey.
“We have got three tough games to get through over the next eight days and I have got to put out a strong side for each occasion and that is what I am doing from the outset,” said Street.
“It’s great to be able to welcome back some seasoned campaigners who I think are world class players. We made the decision to rest certain squad members against France so I expect them to now come back into the fold and bring pace, power and energy to the team.”
The pack, also boasts formidable experiencewith Rochelle Clark spearheading a talented front-row and Tamara Taylor and Rowena Burnfield starting at lock. Packer, Heather Fisher and Sarah Hunter make-up what Street hopes will be an explosive and powerful backrow unit.
On a bench featuring Emma Croker, Georgina Gulliver and Rosemarie Crowley, Bristol prop Sophie Hemming returns to action, while sisters Alexandra and Francesca Matthews could make their first international appearance together.
“The great thing about the England programme is that we have got great strength and depth in our squad now and you can see that from our bench,” added Street. “For us it is invaluable when you are taking on a side as good as New Zealand that you can bring on players with this sort of experience.”
England last played New Zealand 12 months ago when England won two tests and bounced back from their 2010 World Cup final defeat at the hands of the Black Ferns. The two sides then drew the final clash. It was a historic series for England as they became the first side ever to nil the world champions and inflict two consecutive defeats on them.
Street added: “Playing New Zealand over this series last year was definitely the highlight of our season. To try and be the best we have to play the best regularly, and even though we think we have moved on as a squad from 12 months ago, we know that the Black Ferns will be more motivated than ever to come over here and reverse that result.”
England team to face New Zealand
15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
12 Alice Richardson (Richmond)
11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
10 Katy McLean (C) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Tamara Taylor (Lichfield)
5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
6 Heather Fisher (Worcester)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol)
8 Sarah Hunter (VC) (Lichfield)
16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield)
18 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
19 Emily Braund (Lichfield)
20 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
21 Georgina Gulliver (Lichfield)
22 Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
23 Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
England Women Autumn International Series:
- Nov 3, 2012 - England 23 France 13 - Esher RFC
- Nov 23, 2012 - England v New Zealand - Esher RFC - KO 7.30pm (Live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive)
- Nov 27, 2012 - England v New Zealand - Aldershot Army Rugby Stadium - KO 7.30pm. (Live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive)
- Dec 1, 2012 - England v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium - KO 5pm (Live on Sky Sports 1HD)
Tickets for England’s Autumn International Series are available through www.ticketmaster.co.uk, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for Under 16s. This excludes the England v New Zealand game at Twickenham on December 1st as there is free entry to the stadium following the conclusion of the men’s match.