England Women name performance squad as World Cup preparation continues

England Women head coach Craig Richards has selected a 31-player performance squad as preparations continue for this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

Keara Bennett is the only new face in the squad, with the hooker receiving a call-up following impressive club performances last season for Leeds Rhinos, who have eight players in the squad in total.

Five Super League clubs are represented with 2021 treble-winners St Helens having the most players, including England captain Emily Rudge and Woman of Steel Jodie Cunningham in the 12 selected.

There are six York City Knights players, including their new signings Hollie Dodd and Tara Stanley, while four Wigan Warriors stars are named alongside Huddersfield Giants’ Shone Hoyle.

The group will have their first meeting of the new year on Saturday 15 January, at Weetwood Sports Park in Leeds.

The RFL say that they are hopeful of securing a mid-season international programme to give England some action before beginning the World Cup on Tuesday 1 November against Brazil at Headingley.

“I’m really pleased to have named our first National Performance Squad in a World Cup year,” said Richards.

“The majority of the players included have been in or around the programme for some time now and I feel we have some real quality amongst the squad. 

“It’s great to have been able to add Keara Bennett to the squad after she consistently performed for Leeds throughout 2021. We had several international debutants last season and there are certainly going to be opportunities for players to break into the side before the World Cup. 

“We’ve been building towards this World Cup for a number of years now, but we know how crucial our preparations over the next nine months are going to be.”