England Women Head Coach Craig Richards has selected a 31-strong National Performance Squad, including 12 Saints, as preparations for the Rugby League World Cup this autumn continue, with the group meeting for the first time in 2022 on Saturday 15 January at Weetwood Sports Park, Leeds.
2021 treble-winners St Helens have 12 players included in the squad including reigning Woman of Steel Jodie Cunningham and England captain Emily Rudge. Saints trio Beth Stott, Paige Travis and Rachael Woosey all made their international debuts last year and are included as are Vicky Whitfield, Naomi Williams, Carrie Roberts, Tara Jones, Amy Hardcastle, Chantelle Crowl and Leah Burke.
Leeds Rhinos hooker Keara Bennett has been introduced to the squad following impressive showings for the Rhinos culminating in a Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final appearance last season.
The Rhinos provide eight players including off-season signings Emma Lumley and 2018 Woman of Steel Georgia Roche. Hollie Dodd – who made her international debut last season – and Tara Stanley are both also named after leaving Castleford Tigers for York City Knights ahead of the 2022 season.
Four Wigan Warriors players are named in the National Performance Squad while experienced international Shona Hoyle represents Huddersfield Giants following their promotion to Group 1 of the BWSL in 2022.
England Women Head Coach Craig Richards said: “I’m really pleased to have named our first National Performance Squad in a World Cup year.
“The majority of the players included have been in or around the programme for some time now and I feel we have some real quality amongst the squad.
“It’s great to have been able to add Keara Bennett to the squad after she consistently performed for Leeds throughout 2021. We had several international debutants last season and there are certainly going to be opportunities for players to break into the side before the World Cup.
“We’ve been building towards this World Cup for a number of years now, but we know how crucial our preparations over the next nine months are going to be.”
England Women will begin their Rugby League World Cup campaign against Brazil at Headingley Stadium on Tuesday 1 November. A clash with Canada at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday 5 November is followed by a final group stage fixture back in Leeds against Papua New Guinea on Wednesday 9 November.
The RFL are looking to finalise a mid-season international programme which will see England Women take to the field before this year’s Rugby League World Cup
England Women National Performance Squad:
Dannielle Anderson (Leeds Rhinos)
Savannah Andrade (York City Knights)
Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos)
Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos)
Leah Burke (St Helens)
Chantelle Crowl (St Helens)
Jodie Cunningham (St Helens)
Hollie Dodd (York City Knights)
Grace Field (York City Knights)
Kelsey Gentles (York City Knights)
Fran Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos)
Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan Warriors)
Amy Hardcastle (St Helens)
Shona Hoyle (Huddersfield Giants)
Amy Johnson (Leeds Rhinos)
Tara Jones (St Helens)
Chloe Kerrigan (Leeds Rhinos)
Emma Lumley (Leeds Rhinos)
Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors)
Carrie Roberts (St Helens)
Georgia Roche (Leeds Rhinos)
Emily Rudge (St Helens)
Tara Stanley (York City Knights)
Beth Stott (St Helens)
Rachel Thompson (Wigan Warriors)
Paige Travis (St Helens)
Vicky Whitfield (St Helens)
Naomi Williams (St Helens)
Georgia Wilson (Wigan Warriors)
Olivia Wood (York City Knights)
Rachael Woosey (St Helens)