England Women Head Coach Craig Richards has selected a 29-player England Women Performance Squad (EWPS) alongside a 10-player England Women Knights Performance Squad (EWKPS) for 2020.
Warrington Wolves’ Roxette Murdoch features in the EWPS for the first time alongside uncapped Leeds Rhinos quartet Abigail Eatock, Natasha Gaines, Francesca Goldthorp and Chloe Kerrigan, all of whom featured in last year’s Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final and Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final.
St Helens’ Paige Travis and Castleford Tigers’ Lacey Owen are also included in the EWPS for the first time while Carrie Roberts – of the British Army – returns having played for England in 2015.
Richards said: “We felt it was important to name our squads despite the current circumstances to maintain some normality and to ensure the players know where they are in terms of our planning going forward.
“Even though we aren’t meeting and training as a group we have been conducting a number of webinars and online sessions throughout this difficult period which have allowed us to maintain contact and guide the squad.
“Our Athletic Performance Coach Stacey Emmonds has provided the players with training programmes to ensure they’re staying as near to peak fitness as possible despite the current limitations on training.
“Yesterday’s announcement regarding the potential scenarios for a return of the Betfred Women’s Super League included a mini pre-season of three or four weeks which is something we would look to tap into as a Performance Unit.”
The EWKPS will run for the first time under the leadership of former England Women International Lois Forsell, who has been appointed Leeds Rhinos head coach for 2020, and Paul Sculthorpe, the EPU Pathways Coach - with a view to increasing the squad from the 10 players named.
Richards added: “We have named a base of ten players in our Knights squad, but this is with a view to expanding throughout 2020.
“The girls who have been selected now have something to work towards while we have a long list of potential candidates who could bolster that squad further down the line.
“We have been in regular contact with all the players helping them through the current situation, particularly the ones potentially under more stress due to their additional commitments as key workers.
“We have certainly been more conscious of external factors such as work in recent weeks when developing our programme and managing squad members.
“It is important that we continue to manage the programme well whilst remaining focused on 2021 which is a huge year for us hosting the Rugby League World Cup on home soil.”
A number of the 39 players named across both squads have also been involved in roles as ‘key workers’ throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, such as all-time top England Women try-scorer Amy Hardcastle who has been working on the front-line in the NHS, Dannielle Anderson who continues to work in a care home and Eatock and Roberts on standby with the British Army.
England Women Performance Squad:
Dannielle Anderson (Leeds Rhinos)
Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos)
Leah Burke (St Helens)
Chantelle Crowl (St Helens)
Jodie Cunningham (St Helens)
Abigail Eatock (Leeds Rhinos)
Grace Field (Castleford Tigers)
Natasha Gaines (Leeds Rhinos)
Kelsey Gentles (Castleford Tigers)
Francesca Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos)
Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan Warriors)
Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls)
Shona Hoyle (Castleford Tigers)
Amy Johnson (Leeds Rhinos)
Tara Jones (St Helens)
Chloe Kerrigan (Leeds Rhinos)
Shannon Lacey (Leeds Rhinos)
Victoria Molyneux (Wigan Warriors)
Roxette Murdoch (Warrington Wolves)
Lacey Owen (Castleford Tigers)
Sinead Peach (Castleford Tigers)
Carrie Roberts (British Army)
Georgia Roche (Castleford Tigers)
Emily Rudge (St Helens)
Tara Jane Stanley (Castleford Tigers)
Rachel Thompson (Wigan Warriors)
Paige Travis (St Helens)
Naomi Williams (St Helens)
Georgia Wilson (Wigan Warriors)
England Women Knights Performance Squad:
Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos)
Isabel Bibby (Huddersfield Giants)
Jasmine Cudjoe (Castleford Tigers)
Hollie Mae Dodd (Castleford Tigers)
Elle Frain (Leeds Rhinos)
Tara Moxon (Wakefield Trinity)
Sophie Nuttall (Leeds Rhinos)
Ellie Oldroyd (Leeds Rhinos)
Tamzin Renouf (Castleford Tigers)
Aallisha Rhodes (Wakefield Trinity)