England Women Rugby League Head Coach, Stuart Barrow, has named his 19-player squad for Saturday’s (29 April) mid-season international against France at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington (KO 2pm).
St Helens’ Jodie Cunningham will lead the team for the first time since being named captain – a proud moment for the 31-year-old who grew up just a stone’s throw away from the stadium and received her first England call-up whilst playing for Warrington Ladies RC.
Cunningham and her predecessor as captain, Emily Rudge, are two of eight St Helens players included, alongside Leah Burke, Zoe Harris, Shona Hoyle, Tara Jones, Vicky Whitfield and Eboni Partington. Partington – who crossed for a brace of tries in Saints 2022 Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup triumph at Elland Road – is now in line to make her England debut after rapid promotion from the National Performance Squad.
York Valkyrie duo Sinead Peach and Tamzin Renouf have had a sensational start to the Betfred Women’s Super League and they return to the international set-up after last representing their country on the 2019 tour of Papua New Guinea. Their Australia-bound teammate Hollie Dodd could also feature on Saturday, before heading Down Under with England teammate Georgia Roche to play in Australia’s Women’s National Rugby League (NRL).
Roche herself is one of three Leeds Rhinos players in named by Barrow, along with Keara Bennett and new signing Amy Hardcastle.
England Women Head Coach, Stuart Barrow, says:
“It has been a really difficult decision on who to include and who will miss out. We have only had limited training time since last Autumn’s Rugby League World Cup, but after conversations with clubs and observing the opening rounds of the Betfred Women’s Super League I think we are in a good place with this squad.
“The game against France will give the players an opportunity to get on the field and represent England against a team with a new coach and who are looking strong and fresh – it’s a really exciting proposition for us.
“We have a good mix of experience in the squad which should give us a good platform as we begin the journey to the next Rugby League World Cup in 2025.”
Barrow will be taking charge for the first time since his appointment in February and will be assisted by the Leeds Rhinos head coach and former England captain Lois Forsell, and Derek Hardman who was the head coach at St Helens when they secured a Women’s Challenge Cup and Super League double in 2021.
England Women Squad
Savannah Andrade (York Valkyrie), Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke, Jodie Cunningham (C) (both St Helens), Hollie-Mae Dodd, Grace Field (both York Valkyrie), Amy Hardcastle (Leeds Rhinos), Zoe Harris, Shona Hoyle, Tara Jones (all St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors), Eboni Partington (St Helens), Sinead Peach, Tara-Jane Stanley, Tamzin Renouf (all York Valkyrie), Georgia Roche (Leeds Rhinos), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Olivia Wood (York Valkyrie)
Saturday’s event is an international double-header, with both the Women’s and Men’s sides in action against France – and a launchpad too for a game-wide fundraising effort in aid of the MND Association.
The MND Association and Rugby League share a common bond through the former England half-back Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2019. Rob has inspired several outstanding fundraising efforts for MND research since then, most notably those involving his long-time friend and Leeds Rhinos colleague Kevin Sinfield.
England will wear specially-designed kits for the internationals, inspired by an England shirt closely associated with Rob himself – the 2012 Autumn Internationals shirt featuring an artistic representation of the St George’s cross across the length and breadth of the shirt.
Tickets for the Women’s and Men’s international double-header at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium are available to buy online now from only £20 Adults and £10 Under 16s. For every ticket sold, £2.50 will be donated to the MND Association. Cash turnstiles will also be in operation on the day.
The Women’s match kicks off first at 2pm, followed by the Men’s at 4.30, with live and exclusive coverage of both games on Sky Sports Arena from 1.30pm.