Stuart Barrow looks ahead to England future after naming new performance squads

ENGLAND coach Stuart Barrow has selected a national performance squad of 27 players and a Knights development squad of 23 as preparations continue for the 2025 Ashes series in Australia and the Women’s World Cup in 2026.

Newcomers include the talented teenage halfback Caitlin Casey, who enjoyed a dream debut season at Leeds, Huddersfield’s prolific try scorer Amelia Brown and St Helens hooker Katie Mottershead.

Also included are NRLW players Fran Goldthorp, Georgia Roche and Hollie-Mae Dodd, although Georgia Wilson, who has returned to Queensland in a second bid to win an NRLW contract, drops out. 

There is still no room for Saints in-form prop Chantelle Crowl, nor the impressive York trio Savannah Andrade, Carrie Roberts and Liv Gale, who were instrumental in the club’s title success in 2023, although the latter is in the Knights squad.

Asked about the side’s future prospects, Barrow replied: “The domestic competition is developing all the time, and we need a strong domestic competition to enhance the international scene.

“We’ve seen what’s going on in Australia with the NRLW, which is going from strength to strength. It provides challenges for us, but I’m very confident we’ll keep developing as an international team and we will compete at the World Cup. 

“That is our aim. I wouldn’t be in the role if I didn’t think we could compete in a World Cup.”

Other notable names in the Knights squad include York’s Super League winners Emma Kershaw and Jess Sharp, St Helens’ Wembley conquerors Phoebe Hook, Lucie Sams and Amy Taylor, as well as Grace Banks and Beri Salihi, who excelled for Wigan, with the latter joining Saints ahead of the new campaign.

“When I look at the Knights squad, it’s very exciting for the future,” said Barrow, who has previously coached at Castleford, Bradford and Warrington in the men’s game.

“But we’ve got to be careful. It’s about when’s the right time to introduce them to the seniors because they’re still learning their trade in Super League.”

Barrow confirmed that Lancashire and Yorkshire will face each other twice in 2024, once in mid-season and once at the end, with players selected from the senior and Knights squads. The Knights do not have any fixtures scheduled.

Details for the Ashes in 2025 have yet to be finalised. It is still unknown whether the tourists will play any matches other than the Tests.

England national performance squad: Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos), Jasmine Bell (York Valkyrie), Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos), Amelia Brown (Huddersfield Giants), Leah Burke (St Helens), Caitlin Casey (Leeds Rhinos), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Anna Davies (Wigan Warriors), Hollie-Mae Dodd (Canberra Raiders), Grace Field (Leeds Rhinos), Francesca Goldthorp (North Queensland Cowboys), Amy Hardcastle (Leeds Rhinos), Georgie Hetherington (York Valkyrie), Zoe Hornby, Shona Hoyle (Leeds Rhinos), Tara Jones, Katie Mottershead (St Helens), Lacey Owen, Eboni Partington, Sinead Peach, Tamzin Renouf (all York Valkyrie), Georgia Roche (Newcastle Knights), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara-Jane Stanley (York Valkyrie), Paige Travis, Vicky Whitfield (both St Helens), Liv Wood (York Valkyrie).

England Knights national performance squad: Emily Baggaley (St Helens), Grace Banks (Wigan Warriors), Chloe Billington (Featherstone Rovers), Mary Coleman (Wigan Warriors), Jasmine Cudjoe, Ruby Enright (both Leeds Rhinos), Liv Gale (York Valkyrie), Phoebe Hook (St Helens), Eva Hunter, Molly Jones (both Wigan Warriors), Emma Kershaw (York Valkyrie), Lucy Murray, Izzy Northorp (Leeds Rhinos), Beri Salihi, Lucie Sams (both St Helens), Jess Sharp (York Valkyrie), Georgia Sutherland, Erin Stott (both St Helens), Bella Sykes (Leeds Rhinos), Amy Taylor (St Helens), Danielle Waters (Featherstone Rovers), Olivia Whitehead (Leeds Rhinos), Megan Williams (St Helens).