Women's Rugby World Cup: Sarah Hunter leads experienced England squad

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'Really tough' to select England World Cup squad

England have named an experienced 28-player squad for August's Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

The defending champions include 15 of the squad that beat Canada to win the last World Cup in 2014.

Rachael Burford, Rochelle Clark, Tamara Taylor and Danielle Waterman will play in their fourth consecutive World Cup.

Bristol's Sarah Hunter, who led the world number ones to the Six Nations title in March, captains a squad with a combined total of 1,207 caps.

Six players also represented Great Britain in the rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics last summer.

England are in Pool B and open their tournament against Spain on 9 August, before facing Italy on 13 August and USA on 17 August.

Simon Middleton's side go into the World Cup after beating Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the International Women's Rugby Series earlier this month.

"We are confident we have an incredibly strong squad, made up of hugely experienced players who have featured in previous Women's Rugby World Cups and other major tournaments such as the Olympics," said Middleton.

"At the same time, we have younger players who have been involved in a Grand Slam-winning side and a successful three-Test series against some of the best teams in the world earlier this month."

He added: "Our focus has always been on going to Ireland to win the Women's Rugby World Cup. To do that, we are going to have to give more than in any competition we've played over the past year."

England squad

Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Sarah Bern (Bristol), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Bristol), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Alex Matthews (Richmond), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks).

Backs: Rachael Burford (Harlequins), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Megan Jones (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Leanne Riley (Harlequins), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Emily Scott (Saracens), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Kay Wilson (Richmond), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol).

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