All eyes on 2021 for England Women

Sebastian Sternik

New England Women’s head coach, Craig Richards, has admitted that all the focus is on the 2021 World Cup as the team prepares to take on France this Saturday; their first game in almost 12 months. 

Ten uncapped players have been selected for the 20-player squad, including the likes of 18-year-old Woman of Steel Georgia Roche and 16-year-old Leeds Rhinos star Caitlin Beevers. 

Richards said: “Everything we do is building towards the 2021 World Cup. We named ten debutants and the key thing about that was picking the players who really shone in the Origin games and in the Super League. We picked on form but we also recognise that we don’t build a squad or a team overnight.”

Grand Final winners Wigan Warriors only have two players representing them in the squad with Rebecca Greenfield and Vanessa Temple set to potentially make their international debuts. 

Richards has said that this was down to eligibility for the 2021 tournament saying: “Obviously Wigan have been terrific this year and they’ve done really well. But, one of the things that I have to look in to is, who is eligible for 2021. Age wise there is no guarantee that some of the Wigan players who have shone this season, will be around for 2021.”

England have been victorious in their last two games against the French winning 26-16 and 14-8, on both occasions away from home. 

Speaking about their opposition, Richards has admitted that all the focus has been on his own side.

He said: “We’ve not focused a lot on France. We’re trying to build something within the England performance unit and particularly the women’s team and it’s got to be about us coming together, us producing a performance that we’re happy with.

“I think just as the World Cup, we’re going to have to be reactive to what the French have got. Just like you would do in a World Cup game, you have to be reactive to the changes.”

There have been a number of changes in the squad with only eight players remaining from the 2017 World Cup. These include the likes of Faye Gaskin, Jodie Cunningham, Andrea Dobson and Tara Stanley. 

The game with France will take place on Saturday with a scheduled 1pm kick off in Carcassonne. This will be a curtain raiser ahead of the men’s European Championship clash between France and Wales at the Stade Albert Domec.
Full England Squad

Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls) Caps: 16
Amy Johnson (Leeds Rhinos) Caps: 0
Andrea Dobson (Featherstone Rovers) Caps: 23
Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos) Caps: 0
Dannielle Anderson (Leeds Rhinos) Caps: 0
Emily Rudge (St Helens) Caps: 19
Faye Gaskin (St Helens) Caps: 6
Georgia Roche (Castleford Tigers) Caps: 0
Jodie Cunningham (St Helens) Caps: 18
Kelsey Gentles (Castleford Tigers) Caps: 0
Naomi Williams (St Helens) Caps: 0
Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan Warriors) Caps: 0
Rhiannion Marshall (Leeds Rhinos) Caps: 1
Shona Hoyle (Bradford Bulls) Caps: 6
Sinead Peach (Castleford Tigers) Caps: 2
Tara Jones (St Helens) Caps: 3
Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford Tigers) Caps: 8
Tamzin Renouf (Castleford Tigers) Caps: 0
Vanessa Temple (Wigan Warriors) Caps: 0
Vicky Whitfield (St Helens) Caps: 0