England Women name 35-member Elite Player Squad

England Women's head coach Simon Middleton
England Women's head coach Simon Middleton

England Women have named a 35-member Elite Player Squad for the 2019 season that includes 28 players with full-time contracts.

Earlier, in September, the Rugby Football Union had announced reintroduction of full-time contract for the 15s players with the 2021 World Cup in mind.

Apart from the full-time contracted players, the squad also features seven players on elite player squad agreements, who will be part of the training camps organised.

2017 World Cup finalists Sarah Bern, Rachael Burford, Vickii Cornborough, Abbie Scott and Lydia Thompson also find their names in the full-time contracts along with Natasha Hunt, Emily Scarratt and Jess Breach, who return to the 15s set up from sevens programme.

"We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players," said RFU chief executive Steve Brown.

"This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU's commitment to growing the women's game and the belief we have in the future of the sport.

"We are at a tipping point for women's rugby globally and it is our ambition to be world number one and drive growth at every level.

"As an organisation, from top to bottom, we are very much behind this and want to see the continued expansion and growth to realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves."

The squad will assemble at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre on Thursday for a three-day training camp ahead of their Six Nations campaign that kicks-off on 1st February.

England Women squad:

Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Womens RFC), Sarah Beckett (Firwood Waterloo Ladies), Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women), Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women), Jo Brown (Loughborough Lightning), Rowena Burnfield * (Richmond FC), Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Ladies), Bryony Cleall *(Saracens Women), Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women), Amy Cokayne *(Wasps FC Ladies), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies), Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women), Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning), Justine Lucas (Loughborough Lightning), Cath O'Donnell (Loughborough Lightning), Marlie Packer (Saracens Women), Ellena Perry *(Saracens Women), Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies)

Backs: Jess Breach (Harlequins Ladies), Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies), Katy Daley-Mclean (Loughborough Lightning), Abby Dow *(Wasps FC Ladies), Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women), Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury Womens RFC), Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury Womens RFC), Claudia Macdonald *(Wasps FC Ladies), Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women), Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies), Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning), Emily Scott *(Harlequins Ladies), Kelly Smith (Gloucester-Hartpury Womens RFC), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Lagi Tuima (Bristol Bears Women), Carys Williams (Loughborough Lightning)

*denotes EPS players