- Street says Nations Cup and Black Ferns series will benefit squad over crucial year
- "We’re all chomping at the bit to get out there playing and to turn the tables" – La Toya Mason
England Women may have endured a rather underwhelming year so far in terms of results, but head coach Gary Street is fiercely confident that some chastening experiences will help on the road to the Women’s World Cup next August.
A whitewash series defeat at the hands of New Zealand in July foreshadowed a failure to retain the Nations Cup – all of that coming after a third-placed finish in the Six Nations following losses to Ireland and France.
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However, with the likes of Emily Scarratt, Natasha Hunt and Rachael Burford named in the 50-strong EPS and set to concentrate on 15-a-side rugby, a pair of morale-boosting wins against France and Canada in November’s Autumn International Series are well within reach.
Indeed, Street insisted his side would be wholly determined to set the record straight at the first possible chance.
“There’s no extra motivation required apart from what happened in our past two games [against them],” he said, remembering both the 30-20 Six Nations reverse to France and the Nations Cup final, in which Canada came out on top 27-13.
“We’re looking forward to playing France – they took our unbeaten record at Twickenham. Canada were excellent in the Nations Cup but we are picking from our strongest pool [of players] and will certainly go after them at The Twickenham Stoop.”
A collective emphasis on sevens ahead of the World Cup tournament in Moscow meant that both the Six Nations and the two tours in July and August featured very young personnel – and while that may have affected results, Street sees such rotation as a huge positive looking forward.
“It feels really fresh. We had a lot of players playing over the summer and they learnt a lot on some tough trips. I think we’ve come back stronger and learnt a lot.
“They’ve had opportunities – 45 players have played full Test rugby and no other country can say that.
“Another half a dozen potential first-team players were out through injury, so that makes it a group of 50 that I have to cut down to pick my World Cup [squad of] 26.
“That isn’t going to be easy, but any coach wants to be able to pick from the strongest players available. In a World Cup year, you should be excited.”
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Auckland-born La Toya Mason was part of the squad that suffered a clean-sweep at the hands of the Black Ferns.
But far from feeling disconsolate about England’s efforts, the 36-cap scrum half suggested the frustrating manner of each loss could spur her teammates onto a special international campaign.
“A lot of young girls put their hand up and said ‘Look, I’m here and I’m going to fight my way into that starting 15,’” she explained. “That was great to see.
“It was actually amazing to go back home and play in front of my family live for the first time, but to lose was disappointing because at times it felt as though we gave it to them on a plate.
“That’s something we’ve got to look at as a team and it will drive all of us – we’re all chomping at the bit to get out there playing and to turn the tables.”
“First things first, we have the autumn internationals and then we will be building over the Six Nations and trying to claim our trophy back. Obviously after that we have the World Cup. It’s going to be a big old fight.”