Sports

Youth headline England’s rugby WWC squad

Women’s World Cup favourites England have included Loughborough Lightning’s 20-year-old forwards Sadia Kabeya and Morwenna Talling in a 32-player squad which also contains six players who helped lift the trophy in 2014.

Kabeya, a destructive tackler with four caps to her name, got the nod ahead of established back-rowers Vicky Fleetwood and Sarah Beckett, while second-row Talling, who also has four caps, was included despite a recent injury scare.

Captain Sarah Hunter, Emily Scarratt, Marlie Packer, Laura Keates, Alex Matthews and Lydia Thompson are the six survivors from the 2014 World Cup win.

Winger Abby Dow also made the cut after recovering from a broken leg she suffered in this year’s Six Nations.

Experienced scrum-half and 2014 world champion Natasha Hunt was not included as head coach Simon Middleton chose Leanne Infante, Claudia MacDonald and Lucy Packer instead.

Hunter will continue as captain in her fourth World Cup appearance as England seek a third title, having lost the final to New Zealand in 2017 — the fourth time they lost to them in the final in the last five tournaments.

“While this is a squad announcement and not about singling out individuals, it would be remiss not to reference our captain, Sarah Hunter,” Middleton said.

“Sarah is a better captain now than she has ever been. She has owned the captaincy and how she represents the squad on and off the field is absolutely brilliant.

“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 have won a record 25 tests in a row and are ranked number one in the world going into the tournament, which begins on Oct. 8.

They face Fiji in their opening Pool C game before taking on France and South Africa, with the final set to take place in Auckland on Nov. 12

England World Cup squad

Forwards

Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 32 caps)

Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 46 caps)

Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 30 caps)

Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins, 27 caps)

Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 57 caps)

Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 64 caps)

Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 70 caps)

Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)

Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 7 caps)

Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 135 caps)

Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)

Laura Keates (University of Worcester Warriors, 62 caps)

Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 51 caps)

Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 11 caps)

Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 20 caps)

Marlie Packer (Saracens, 84 caps)

Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 5 caps)

Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)

Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 56 caps)

Backs

Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 10 caps)

Jess Breach (Saracens, 23 caps)

Abby Dow (Wasps, 24 caps)

Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 40 caps)

Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 5 caps)

Leanne Infante (Saracens, 52 caps)

Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 25 caps)

Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 20 caps)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 42 caps)

Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 5 caps)

Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 5 caps)

Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 103 caps)

Lydia Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors, 54 caps)

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