Warriors Women wing Lydia Thompson is one of 28 players who have been awarded full-time England Women contracts by the Rugby Football Union.
Thompson, 27, has won 44 England caps since she made her international debut against Spain in 2012 and has had her central contract renewed after she was among the initial group of players awarded professional deals by the RFU earlier this year.
Thompson scored a hat-trick of tries against Ireland at Twickenham last November but missed the entire Six Nations because of injury.
She made a successful return to action in the Women’s Super Series in San Diego during the summer but has missed the opening two rounds of Tyrrells Premier 15s matches because of a concussion sustained in pre-season training.
“The quality of the players within the Tyrrells Premier 15s has meant the competition for contracts has and will continue to increase which will only be a positive as we continue our long-term build-up to the 2021 World Cup. The league keeps throwing up new talent,” said England Women Head Coach Simon Middleton.
“We looked at the squad before we went out to San Diego in the summer and knew some of the players who were going to be awarded contracts this season. We also looked at some players who we thought probably needed to make a statement in San Diego.
“A couple of players were unable to make the trip. Bryony Cleall was ruled out through injury but we believe she’s got the potential and the playing characteristics that can bring a point of difference to the group. We are giving her an opportunity but as with all the players, it’s now down to her to take it.
“Other players, such as Claudia MacDonald went out to San Diego and had a great tournament. She’s learning her trade as a scrum half but can also play on the wing as she did against New Zealand where she had a strong game.
“Emily Scott is not only a top quality player but offers great versatility in her play, a characteristic that is vital when you’re competing in tournament rugby.
“Last season, a number of players surfaced within the league who were showing great potential and we felt it would be wrong not to look at them.
“We’re really pleased with the squad of 28 and we’ll continue to adapt and call on other players at any given time. The whole league is a pool for us.
“We’re all looking forward to the season ahead.”
England Women contracted players
Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women)
Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women)
Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women)
Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women)
Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women)
Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women)
Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women/RAF)
Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women)
Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women)
Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning)
Cath O’ Donnell (Loughborough Lightning)
Marlie Packer (Saracens Women)
Abbie Scott (Harlequins Women)
Jess Breach (Harlequins Women)
Katy Daley-Mclean (Loughborough Lightning)
Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women)
Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
Claudia Macdonald (Wasps FC Ladies)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women)
Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women)
Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women)
Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning)
Emily Scott (Harlequins Women)
Kelly Smith (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
Lydia Thompson (Warriors Women)
Lagi Tuima (Harlequins Women)