Sarah Hunter retains captaincy as England unveil 32-member squad for Rugby World Cup

Sarah Hunter will lead England in the Rugby World Cup next year
Sarah Hunter will lead England in the Rugby World Cup next year

England Women head coach Simon Middleton has named a 32-member squad for the Rugby World Cup to be played in New Zealand next year.

The squad which has 19 forwards and 13 backs will be captained by Sarah Hunter and will have six members from the 2014 World Cup squad.

19 players are set to play their first World Cup with Natasha Hunt left out as Middleton preferred Lucy Packer. Abby Dow has overcome her injury to make it to the squad along with Sadia Kabeya and Morwenna Talling.

Laura Keates is back in the squad after last playing in November 2020 while Tatyana Heard and Claudia MacDonald have been recalled.

"First and foremost I would like to start by acknowledging those who have missed out on selection. There is not one single player in the wider squad who hasn't given their all," he said.

"Nobody has given less than their absolute best, they should be proud of their efforts throughout the team's campaign to date.

"If between now and the tournament, or during the World Cup, we have to call anyone up, we can do it with 100 per cent confidence that we are bringing a top player in.

"I would like to say a huge congratulations to those who have made the squad. To earn selection means you have done some special things and you have been outstanding in your application to training and performances.

"We are really confident with the balance of the squad. I am pleased with the way the team is gelling and how our game is coming together. There is still plenty to work on, we expect to improve game-on-game."

England, who currently are on a 25-game winning streak are in Pool C along with France, South Africa and Fiji.

England squad:

Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft, Sarah Bern, Hannah Botterman, Shaunagh Brown, Poppy Cleall, Amy Cokayne, Vickii Cornborough, Lark Davies, Rosie Galligan, Sarah Hunter, Sadia Kabeya, Laura Keates, Alex Matthews, Maud Muir, Cath O'Donnell, Marlie Packer, Connie Powell, Morwenna Talling, Abbie Ward.

Backs: Holly Aitchison, Jess Breach, Abby Dow, Zoe Harrison, Tatyana Heard, Leanne Infante, Ellie Kildunne, Claudia MacDonald, Sarah McKenna, Lucy Packer, Helena Rowland, Emily Scarratt, Lydia Thompson.