Warriors Women trio Lydia Thompson, Alex Matthews and Flo Long have been named in England’s 38-player squad for the 2021 Women’s Six Nations.
The Red Roses will assemble in Doncaster on Monday ahead of their opening Pool A game against Scotland at Castle Park on Saturday April 3 (kick-off 3pm, live on BBC iPlayer).
All 38 players in the squad are part of the Six Nations tournament testing protocols, which means they can train with the group and are eligible to feature in matchday squads if selected. England have carried out individual risk assessments with players to allow them to work or play for their clubs outside of England camps with further measures put in place to protect the training bubble.
Following the match in Yorkshire, England take on Italy at Stadio Plebiscito, Padova (Saturday 10 April, kick-off 1400 BST and live on BBC iPlayer) before hosting the final play-off match, the first Women’s Six Nations fixture to be broadcast on the main BBC network (Saturday 24 April, KO 1400 BST, BBC Two) with the venue to be confirmed.
The Friday after the tournament concludes, Simon Middleton’s side will travel to Lille to take on France in a Women’s Six Nations exhibition game in their maiden visit to Villeneuve d’Ascq on Friday April 30 (kick-off 8pm BST, BBC iPlayer).
Sarah Bern (shoulder), Natasha Hunt (ankle), Laura Keates (ACL) and Morwenna Talling (ACL) are ruled out of the tournament due to injury.
Head Coach Simon Middleton said: “From a performance point of view we’ve been training really hard for a few months now. We have a lot of evidence from training to say we’ve raised our intensity and physicality whilst at the same time developing our ability to execute accurately and make good decisions under the pressure that comes with that type of intensive pressure training, that’s what we want to see when we go into the Scotland game. We want a high tempo, high energy game with quality play off the back of it.
“We have named a wider squad than usual and are able to bring in a number of development players from the pathway. With the pathway being impacted by the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to help support the development of young players, bringing them into senior camps which was a win-win all round and there’s every chance we could see those players feature over the course of the games.
“We’re pleased to have Alex Matthews, Helena Rowland and Megan Jones available given the crossover with the GB Sevens programme. They’ll be with us for varying degrees of the Six Nations and then continue their preparations with the GB set-up.
“This will be our first international since Katy Daley-Mclean’s retirement. It’ll be great to see how our young fly halves, Zoe Harrison and Helena Rowland steer the ship. We’ll have some new half back combinations and it will be interesting to see how they go.
“It feels like we’ve been training for a long time and I think the staff are as desperate for the games as the players are. The players play week-in week-out with the clubs but as a staff group we don’t get that release so it feels like we’ve been preparing forever. We’re all really looking forward to the games and getting into competition mode.”
Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 20 caps)
Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)
Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 20 caps)
Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)
Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, 1 cap)
Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 43 caps)
Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 53 caps)
Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 56 caps)
Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 28 caps)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 76 caps)
Detysha Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)
Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning 123 caps)
Flo Long (Worcester Warriors Women, 0 caps)*
Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors Women, 40 caps)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 58 caps)
Maud Muir (Wasps FC Ladies, 0 caps)*
Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 16 caps)
Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 74 caps)
Ellena Perry (Gloucester-Hartpury, 10 caps)
Emily Robinson (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)
Abbie Ward (Harlequins Women, 45 caps)
Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 15 caps)
Merryn Doidge (Exeter Chiefs Women, 0 caps)*
Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 15 caps)
Ellie Green (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)*
Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 27 caps)
Megan Jones (Wasps FC Ladies, 10 caps)
Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 11 caps)
Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 12 caps)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 32 caps)
Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women, 58 caps)
Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 40 caps)
Flo Robinson (Exeter Chiefs, 0 caps)*
Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)
Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lighting, 92 caps)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 46 caps)
Lagi Tuima (Harlequins Women, 6 caps)
Beth Wilcock (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)*