England Women name squad for 2014 World Cup in France
England Women coach Gary Street has named a 26-strong squad for the World Cup in France next month.
Captained by fly-half Katy Mclean, the squad features nine players making their tournament debut, including back-rower Alexandra Matthews, 20, who has recently returned from injury.
England play Samoa on 1 August, with Spain and Canada also in their group.
"We have a balance of new players hungry for a first World Cup but also more experienced heads," said Street.
Five of those experienced players - flanker Maggie Alphonsi, centre Rachel Burford, lock Tamara Taylor, full-back Danielle Waterman and prop Rochelle Clark - will be hoping to make it third time lucky, after all played in 2006 and 2010.
England have finished runners-up at the last three tournaments, but head to France with high hopes of finally toppling four-time champions New Zealand, who have beaten them in the last three finals.
Exciting Worcester wing Lydia Thompson, 22 and Wasps flanker Marlie Packer, 24, are among those who will feature at their first World Cup, while Wasps wing Michaela Staniford, Saracens flanker Hannah Gallagher, Lichfield duo Georgina Gulliver and Emily Braund, and Thurrock hooker Mercedes Foy all miss the cut.
All the pool games will be held at France's national rugby centre in Marcouiss, on the outskirts of Paris. The semi-finals and final will be played at the Stade Jean Bouin, home of Stade Francais.
|England Women World Cup Squad|
|Claire Allan (Richmond)||Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)|
|Rachael Burford (Thurrock)||Rochelle Clark (Worcester)|
|Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)||Emma Croker (Richmond)|
|Ceri Large (Worcester)||Rebecca Essex (Richmond)|
|La Toya Mason (Wasps)||Heather Fisher (Worcester)|
|Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C)||Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)|
|Katherine Merchant (Worcester)||Sophie Hemming (Bristol)|
|Amber Reed (Bristol)||Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) (VC)|
|Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)||Laura Keates (Worcester)|
|Lydia Thompson (Worcester)||Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)|
|Danielle Waterman (Bristol)||Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)|
|Kay Wilson (Bristol)||Marlie Packer (Wasps)|
|Claire Purdy (Wasps)|
|Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)|