England Head Coach Gary Street has named a squad of 44 players who will contest a three test series against New Zealand in November and then the RBS 6 Nations in February and March. With England hosting the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup in August and September next year in London, this is a crucial year for the reigning RBS 6 Nations and Nations Cup champions.
"We have a very busy international programme this season and that will give everyone in this squad the chance to put their hands up for a place in next year's world cup squad," said Street.
Street has named four newcomers in his elite squad, including England Under 20s graduate and Worcester prop Laura Keates. Keates has been involved in the RFUW set-up since she was an under 16s player, and last season captained the Under 20s to Nations Cup glory.
Richmond centre Abi Chamberlain also joins the squad after some good performances at club level. She also ran out for England 7 last season in the European Championships.
Team Northumbria's Jane Leonard returns to the elite squad after a year out because of work commitments with the Army while Worcester's Amber Penrith has also come out of retirement.
Street added: "I've brought in four new players this season and I now feel we have a solid and experienced squad capable of realising our ambitions. I'm delighted to welcome Laura, Abi, Amber and Jane into the squad. Laura has had two very good years with the under 20s, and will certainly add more strength to our forwards this year, while Abi is a very versatile player who has huge potential and can play in the centre, at full back and on the wing.
"Both Amber and Jane return to the squad after some time off, and both have proven what talent they are in the past. I am sure they'll play a big part this season."
England Elite Squad 2009/2010
Claire Allan Richmond Centre
Margaret Alphonsi Saracens Flanker
Charlotte Barras Saracens Full Back
Sarah Beale Lichfield No 8
Natalie Binstead Wasps Second Row
Rachael Burford Richmond Centre
Rowena Burnfield Richmond Second Row
*Abi Chamberlain Richmond Centre
Rochelle Clark Team Northumbria Prop
Rosemarie Crowley Lichfield Prop
Becky Essex Richmond Second Row
Heather Fisher Worcester Flanker
Amy Garnett Saracens Hooker
Sonia Green Saracens Flanker
Sarah Guest Worcester Scrum Half
Sophie Hemming Bristol Prop
Sarah Hunter Lichfield Flanker
Karen Jones Worcester No 8
*Laura Keates Worcester Prop
Danielle Knight Lichfield Fly Half
Emma Layland Richmond Hooker
*Jane Leonard Team Northumbria/Army Flanker
La Toya Mason Wasps Scrum Half
Francesca Matthews Richmond Winger
Joanna McGilchrist Wasps Second Row
Katy McLean Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Fly Half
Katherine Merchant Worcester Winger
Kimberley Oliver Bristol Centre
*Amber Penrith Worcester Winger
Fiona Pocock Richmond Winger
Olivia Poore Lichfield Hooker
Claire Purdy Wasps Prop
Sam Reeve Worcester Hooker
Alice Richardson Richmond Fly Half
Georgina Roberts Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Centre
Georgina Rozario Bristol Scrum Half
Emily Scarratt Lichfield Centre
Gemma Sharples Worcester Flanker
Catherine Spencer Bristol No 8
Michaela Staniford Wasps Winger
Katy Storie Team Northumbria Prop
Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks Second Row
Amy Turner Richmond Scrum Half
Danielle Waterman Worcester Fullback
* denotes new elite squad member
England v New Zealand international fixtures
November 14th - England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 4pm
November 17th - England A v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
November 21st - Investec Challenge Double Header, England v New Zealand, Twickenham, KO 445pm
Entry to the Investec Challenge Double Header is free after 415pm.
photos Janos Schmidt