Valkyries duo named in Red Roses squad

Worcester Valkyries duo Lydia Thompson and Rochelle Clark have been named in the England Women’s squad for their three-Test tour to New Zealand.

The duo are part of the 28-player squad which will face Australia, Canada and the Black Ferns in the International Women’s Series.

England kick-off their campaign against Australia in Wellington (9 June), before taking on Canada in Christchurch (13 June) and the Black Ferns in Rotorua four days later.

The final match in Rotorua will be a curtain-raiser for the British & Irish Lions game against the Maori All Blacks. All three games will be live streamed via Worldrugby.org.

Fifteen of the 28 players were named in England’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning squad, but Valkyries’ Laura Keates misses out on selection through injury.

Head Coach Simon Middleton said: “With the World Cup just around the corner, this tour provides an excellent opportunity for us to test ourselves in an unfamiliar environment against some of the leading teams in the world. 

“The tight turnaround of games replicates the World Cup schedule, and we expect to encounter a great atmosphere in New Zealand, which will provide players with the best possible preparation for Ireland in August.

“The squad have been training together for the last six weeks and, while it will be important to get the travel out of their legs on arrival in time for the first game, I am looking forward to seeing players translate their hard work in training into first-class performances on the pitch.

“Sadly Laura Keates will miss the Women’s Rugby World Cup after sustaining a long-term injury in training.

“It is a great loss to the squad after she played such a vital role throughout the Six Nations and we all greatly feel for her.”

Forwards
Sarah Bern (Bristol), Emily Braund (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls), 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 (Aylesford Bulls), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Megan Jones (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Sarah McKenna (Saracens), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Emily Scott (Saracens), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Kay Wilson (Richmond)
 
International Women's Series

Friday 9 June – Porirua Park, Wellington (KO 1.30am BST)
Australia vs England Women
 
Tuesday 13 June – Rugby Park, Christchurch (KO 1.30am BST)
Canada vs England Women
 
Saturday 17 June – Rotorua International Stadium (KO 5.30am BST)
New Zealand vs England Women