England Head Coach Gary Street has today (Thursday) named his Elite Squad of 44 players to spearhead England’s international season this term.
Street has named Bath’s Catherine Spencer as captain for the second year running. He has also called up 11 new players to the elite squad which includes several players that ran out for the successful England Under 20s side last season.
Clifton’s Monica Lewinska, who has progressed through the RFUW’s equally successful regional programme, has also been called up while Wasps’ Heather Fisher, Saracens’ Sonia Green, Lichfield’s Lois Moulding and Clifton’s Kim Oliver are also welcomed back into the squad.
The remainder of the squad consists of players that featured heavily in England’s winning RBS 6 Nations, Nations Cup and European Championship campaigns last season, as well as England’s A successful run.
Street said: “This is an exciting squad. We have got lots of experience here but also youth and these young players have demonstrated their potential through a really good Under 20s campaign. I am also pleased to welcome back the likes of Kim Oliver, who has been sidelined with an injury, while players like Heather Fisher and Lois Moulding have worked really hard to get back into the squad.”
England face one of their toughest season’s this year since the 2006 iRB Rugby World Cup, with the RBS 6 Nations and the iRB inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup 7s running concurrently in March.
Street added: “We have known for some time that our players will be competing in two different tournaments at the same time in March and obviously that is going to stretch us. I don’t think there is another side in this season’s RBS 6 Nations that will be affected as much as us.
“However, we have prepared thoroughly for this and that is partly why we ran such an extensive international campaign last season, competing in the Nations Cup and the European Championship. Last season, 30 players represented England and that gives me great confidence going into this new season. I know we have strength and depth across all positions and we have the potential to be as successful as we have been previously.”
England’s international campaign kicks-off with the 7s team travelling to Dubai in November, before England and England A play Ireland and Italy respectively in December. England will then begin their defence of their triple RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam title on February 7th against Italy.
England Elite Squad 2008/2009
Claire Allan Saracens Centre
Margaret Alphonsi Saracens Flanker
Charlotte Barras Saracens Winger
Sarah Beale Lichfield No 8
Natalie Binstead Wasps Second Row
Rachael Burford Saracens Centre VC
*Rowena Burnfield Richmond Second Row
Rochelle Clark Blaydon Team Northumbria Prop
Rosemarie Crowley Lichfield Prop
Becky Essex Richmond Flanker
*Heather Fisher Wasps Flanker
Amy Garnett Saracens Hooker
*Sonia Green Saracens Flanker
*Sarah Guest Worcester Scrum Half
Sophie Hemming Clifton Prop
Sarah Hunter Lichfield Flanker
Vicki Jackson Lichfield Centre
Karen Jones Richmond No 8
*Dani Knight Lichfield Fly Half
Emma Layland Richmond Hooker
Tina Lee Clifton Fly Half
*Monica Lewinska Clifton Prop
*Latoya Mason Wasps Scrum Half
Victoria Massarella Saracens Fullback
Francesca MatthewsRichmond Winger
Joanna McGilchrist Wasps Second Row
Katy McLean Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Fly Half
Katherine Merchant Worcester Winger
*Lois Moulding Lichfield Flanker
*Kimberley Oliver Clifton Centre
*Olivia Poore Lichfield Hooker
Fiona Pocock Richmond Winger
Claire Purdy Wasps Prop
Sam Reeves(Nee Dale)Worcester Hooker
Alice Richardson Richmond Fly Half
Georgina Rozario Plymouth Albion Scrum Half
*Emily Scarratt Lichfield Centre
Gemma Sharples Worcester Flanker
Catherine Spencer Bath No 8 Captain
Michaela Staniford Wasps Winger
Katy Storie Blaydon Team Northumbria Prop
Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Second Row
Amy Turner Richmond Scrum Half
Danielle Waterman Blaydon Team Northumbria Fullback
*Indicates new Elite Squad 44 member
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images