An England squad boasting a total of 682 caps between them left for America on Monday ahead of this weekend's Women's Super Series in the USA.
New Zealand will not be in Salt Lake City to defend their title, placing Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 winners England as marginal favourites to go one better than last year and win what is expected to be a highly competitive quadrangular tournament also featuring hosts USA, WRWC 2014 runners-up Canada and newcomers France.
England are the highest ranked of the competing nations as they currrently occupy second spot behind New Zealand in the World Rugby Women'sRankings. France are one place back in third, Canada are fifth and USA sixth.
Two new names, in Darlington Mowden Park number eight Zoe Aldcroft and Bristol forward Sarah Bern, will be looking to secure their first senior England caps in Salt Lake City having progressed through the England under-20 programme.
Other names returning to the side include Laura Keates, back from injury to try to gain her 50th England cap, and Richmond wing Fiona Pocock who also returns from time on the sidelines.
Alex Matthews (main picture) and Megan Jones have been recalled from the sevens programme for the tour.
“This tour is an important opportunity for these girls to come together and play some of the top sides in the world. For those who haven’t been through the World Cup environment previously, they will experience everything there is around the tight turnaround of games and an away tour," said England lead coach Scott Bemand.
“We are really excited about the group of players travelling as it gives us the opportunity to further evolve our style of play.”
Meanwhile, USA coach Pete Steinberg has opted for continuity as the Women’s Eagles look to improve on last year’s third-place finish.
Nineteen of the 26 players competed in last year's Super Series, including Eagles Sevens' Cheta Emba, Nicole Heavirland, and Jane Paar. Several Women's Collegiate All-Americans, like Catherine Benson and Jordan Gray, return to the team, while other All-Americans like Megan Foster and Nicole Strasko are part of their first senior national team assemblies.
Led by Laura Russell, Canada’s squad is a blend of youth and experience. Russell is joined by 14 other returnees from last year’s tournament, while there’s also an opportunity for eight players - Anais Holly, Fabiola Forteza, Brianna Miller, Frédérique Rajotte, Elysa Sandron, Kristy Sargent, Demi Stamatakis and Amanda Williams - to make their test debuts for Canada.
Last year, Canada was narrowly beaten 15-14 by England while USA edged past Canada 36-28 in Red Deer. Canada have not faced France since defeating them in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 semi-final.
France have yet to announce their squad.
England squad: Zoe Aldcroft, Sarah Bern, Bianca Blackburn, Lauren Cattell, Lotte Clapp, Rochelle Clark, Amy Cokayne, Victoria Cornborough, Lark Davies, Courtney Gill, Sarah Hunter, Megan Jones, Laura Keates, Heather Ker, Ruth Laybourn, La Toya Mason, Katie Mason, Alex Matthews, Harriet Millar-Mills, Isabelle Noel-Smith, Fiona Pocock, Amber Reed, Leanne Rile, Tamara Taylor, Lydia Thompson.
USA squad: Kathryn Augustyn, Catherine Benson, Stacey Bridges, Elizabeth Cairns, Cheta Emba, Tiffany Faaee, Megan Foster, Jordan Gray, Nicole Heavirland, Molly Kinsella, Joanna Kitlinski, Jennifer Lui, Saskia Morgan, Deven Owsiany, Jane Paar, Samantha Pankey, Christiane Pheil, Jamila Reinhardt, Hope Rogers, Kimberly Rozier, Asinate Serevi, Jennifer Sever, Nicole Strasko, Naya Tapper, Alycia Washington, Jessica Wooden.
Canada squad: Emily Belchos, Latoya Blackwood, Tyson Beukeboom, Andrea Burk, Olivia DeMerchant, Fabiola Forteza, Chelsea Guthrie, Anais Holly, Mary-Jane Kirby, Kayla Mack, Carolyn McEwen, DaLeaka Menin, Barbara Mervin, Katie McNally, Brianna Miller, Jacey Murphy, Frédérique Rajotte, Laura Russell (captain), Elysa Sandron, Kristy Sargent,Demi Stamatakis, Katie Svoboda, Alex Tessier, Brittany Waters, Amanda Williams, Julianne Zussman.
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