England and St Helens star Emily Rudge has said that the decision to name the national squad last week, despite the prospect of there being no games for the time being, is helping the players through these difficult times.
Following the Yorkshire v Lancashire Origin series earlier this year, head coach Craig Richards has selected a 29-player England Women Performance Squad, alongside a ten-player England Women Knights Performance Squad for 2020.
The squad will continue to work together throughout the year as their preparations for the 2021 World Cup continue, and Rudge, who captained England in their tour to Australia and Papua New Guinea last year, is impressed with the professionalism now shown in the national set-up.
“Although it’s currently a strange time, and it’s going to be a very different season, it’s been great to have the England squad announced,” said Rudge, who made her England debut as a 16-year-old in 2008.
“Craig and his staff have had plenty of time to see us all this year already. We have been very lucky to have had so much time with each other as a training squad because we were training pretty much every weekend in January and February before heading into the Origin games.
“We worked really hard ahead of that series, and although it’s different circumstances now, the girls are still working hard to maintain what we did then. We have had regular meetings with nutritionists, done some video analysis sessions and generally had a lot of contacts as a group.
“That has helped keep us motivated and working hard.
“When lockdown started I think some people thought what we’d done in that pre-season might have gone to waste. But because we were in such a good place going into lockdown, and have maintained it, we’ll be ready to start the season with our clubs and England training strongly.
“The women’s game is in such a good place now and the backing we’re getting is brilliant. As a member of the England squad this is the best support I have ever had.
“There is some great young talent in the squad with some great potential for the World Cup. Being in this environment will only help them develop.
“And, with even more young talent in the Knights squad ready to come through, these are very exciting times.”
The England Women Performance Squad in full: Dannielle Anderson (Leeds Rhinos), Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke (St Helens), Chantelle Crowl (St Helens), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Abigail Eatock (Leeds Rhinos), Grace Field (Castleford Tigers), Natasha Gaines (Leeds Rhinos), Kelsey Gentles (Castleford Tigers), Francesca Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos), Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan Warriors), Amy Hardcastle (St Helens), Shona Hoyle (Castleford Tigers), Amy Johnson (Leeds Rhinos), Tara Jones (St Helens), Chloe Kerrigan (Leeds Rhinos), Shannon Lacey (Leeds Rhinos), Victoria Molyneux (Wigan Warriors), Roxette Murdoch (Warrington Wolves), Lacey Owen (Castleford Tigers), Sinead Peach (Castleford Tigers), Carrie Roberts (British Army), Georgia Roche (Castleford Tigers), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara Jane Stanley (Castleford Tigers), Rachel Thompson (Wigan Warriors), Paige Travis (St Helens), Naomi Williams (St Helens), Georgia Wilson (Wigan Warriors).
The England Women Knights Performance Squad: Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos), Isabel Bibby (Huddersfield Giants), Jasmine Cudjoe (Castleford Tigers), Hollie Mae Dodd (Castleford Tigers), Elle Frain (Leeds Rhinos), Tara Moxon (Wakefield Trinity), Sophie Nuttall (Leeds Rhinos), Ellie Oldroyd (Leeds Rhinos), Tamzin Renouf (Castleford Tigers), Aallisha Rhodes (Wakefield Trinity).