Craig Richards’ England inspired by Lionesses as they aim to win World Cup

Craig Richards says his England team has been inspired by the Lionesses as they aim to achieve a similar feat in the World Cup.

The success of the football team in winning Euro 2022 on home soil captured the nation’s hearts and attention on a scale not seen before in women’s sport.

Now it is the turn of the Rugby League side to finish a memorable year by aiming to win their World Cup in front of home support.

“It’s so inspiring, especially what the Lionesses did,” said head coach Richards. 

“We were glued to the television in my house; we’ve got three daughters and they’re not really sporty, but for some reason they all wanted to watch the Lionesses. That shows the power of sport. 

“I think what the Red Roses (rugby union team, who have won an unprecedented 25 consecutive matches ahead of their own World Cup) have done as well, it sometimes flies a bit under the radar in my opinion. But they’ve done everything that we want to do. 

“I’m inspired by it. The girls talk about them all the time. It instils belief that, as England, we can produce athletes that complete on a world stage. We will continue to take inspiration from what these sides are doing.”

Richards last week named his 24-player squad for the tournament, which begins on November 1st at Headingley when they take on Brazil.

Leeds Rhinos forward Zoe Hornby is the only uncapped player selected in a side that will be captained by St Helens’ Emily Rudge.

Challenge Cup holders Saints provide the most players with eleven, while there are seven from Super League Grand Final champions Leeds, four from League Leaders’ Shield holders York City Knights, and two from Wigan Warriors.

They will have a tough challenge on their hands, especially coming up against holders Australia and the full-time players who compete in the NRLW. But Richards is “100 per cent” confident England can win the tournament.

“If you meet the Jillaroos in a final, you’ve got to be at your best, and you need one or two things to go your way as well because they are good,” he said. 

“But we’re really confident in this group of players. There are areas where we would have fallen down in the past but we won’t do now.

“I wouldn’t have done five years of this and the girls wouldn’t work as hard as they have done otherwise.”

England squad: Dannielle Anderson, Caitlin Beevers, Keara Bennett (all Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke, Jodie Cunningham (both St Helens), Hollie Dodd, Grace Field (both York City Knights), Fran Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos), Amy Hardcastle, Zoe Harris (both St Helens), Zoe Hornby (Leeds Rhinos), Shona Hoyle, Tara Jones (both St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors), Carrie Roberts (St Helens), Georgia Roche (Leeds Rhinos), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara-Jane Stanley (York City Knights), Beth Stott, Paige Travis (both St Helens), Courtney Winfield-Hill (Leeds Rhinos), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Georgia Wilson (Wigan Warriors), Olivia Wood (York City Knights).

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