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England name squad for three-Test series against Black Ferns

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rfu.com and James Mortimer     21 May 2013     Getty Images

. England will play the reigning world champions New Zealand over a three-Test series in New Zealand in July before heading to Denver to defend their Nations Cup title where they’ll take on Canada, the USA and South Africa in July and August.

England coaches Gary Street and Graham Smith have picked their squads for the tours, which include a very strong 26 to travel to New Zealand where England will play the Black Ferns on July 13 at Eden Park, at Waikato Stadium on July 16 and at the ECOlight Stadium on July 20.

Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter continues her captaincy reign after England’s third-place finish in the Six Nations while the squad also welcomes back 12 players from the England Sevens programme following the Rugby World Cup Sevens in June.

England will, however, be without Margaret Alphonsi, Danielle Waterman, Hannah Gallagher, Georgina Gulliver, Amy Turner and Fiona Pocock who are all not considered because of injury.

England head to New Zealand on the back of two consecutive series wins against the Black Ferns in 2011 and 2012 but the visitors have not played on their turf since 2005, or won a game in New Zealand since 2001.

Street said: “With a handful of players out injured this is the strongest squad I have available. It is an exciting squad and one I think will relish the chance of playing the world champions in New Zealand, something we have not done in eight years.

“Unquestionably this is a hugely important series as we countdown to the Rugby World Cup. It will be the last time that we play them before that tournament whilst it will also provide a massive mental challenge for our squad. Playing at large stadiums like Eden Park and in front of big, passionate, rugby mad crowds as well as taking on the world champions will provide me with an invaluable opportunity to access where we are 12 months out from the World Cup.”

The Nations Cup squad will also be captained by Hunter, who will this time lead a new-look developing England squad. In total there are eight players set to make their England debuts, including England U20s captain Megan Goddard and fellow U20s players Charlotte Keane, Leanne Riley, Abbie Scott and Amy Wilson-Hardy. A notable ten players are graduating from the RFU’s successful Divisional Programme.

England Assistant Coach Graham Smith will act as Head Coach for this tour with Simon Middleton, former Leeds Carnegie player and Defence and Skills coach, stepping in as Assistant Coach. They’ll be relying on the experience of Hunter, Claire Purdy, Rochelle Clark, Emma Croker, Rowena Burnfield and Claire Allan to guide this young squad against some tough opposition.

Street added: “The Nations Cup is a fantastic opportunity for some of our fringe or Elite Playing Squad members to gain some invaluable experience ahead of a very important season for us. This tournament will certainly help to assist our strength in depth ahead of a very busy season and that is largely down to our player pathway working so well and the work of the RFU’s Divisional Talent Development Officers.”

England squad for New Zealand series
Emily Braund (Lichfield)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
Emma Croker (Richmond)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
Laura Keates (Worcester)
La Toya Mason (Wasps)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Joanne McGilchrist (Wasps)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Harriett Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Kate Newton (Bristol)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Tamara Taylor (Lichfield)
Sally Tuson (Bristol)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)

England squad for Nations Cup
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
Rochelle Clark (Richmond)
Fiona Davidson (Richmond)
Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
Fiona Fletcher (Lichfield)
*Mercedes Foy (Thurrock)
*Megan Goddard (Worcester)
Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
*Charlotte Keane (Worcester)
Laura Keates (Worcester)
Ceri Large (Worcester)
Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
*Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Kate Newton (Bristol)
Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Claire Purdy (Wasps)
*Leanne Riley (Saracens)
Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
*Zoe Saynor (Bristol)
*Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Bristol)
*Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)

* Denotes uncapped player