Middleton excited by challenge awaiting Red Roses

  • Red Roses face Australia on Friday (9 June) 1.30am BST
  • England the take on Canada and New Zealand

England Women head coach Simon Middleton says he is excited by the challenge awaiting the side in their three-match tour of New Zealand.

The Red Roses kick-off their International Women’s Series campaign against Australia in Wellington (9 June), before taking on Canada in Christchurch (13 June) and the Black Ferns in Rotorua four days later.

The final match in Rotorua will be a curtain-raiser for the British & Irish Lions game against the Maori All Blacks and Middleton says he hopes to test the strength and depth of his squad.

The three-Test tour will provide further preparation ahead of England’s Women’s World Cup defence in Ireland (9-26 August).

“Everyone is excited to be here in New Zealand and we have had a fantastic welcome,” said Middleton.

“We have travelled well and everyone is in a really good place and looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Strength and depth

Ahead of England’s first game on Friday against Australia, Middleton added: “Top of the agenda for any international game is to win, we also have great strength and depth and we want to exploit this to full effect throughout the series. We have brought a fantastic squad of players here.”

On landing in Wellington the squad took part in a yoga session, before doing some prehab work with the intensity of training increasing ahead of Friday’s game.

“It will be pretty light for the first couple of days, then we will begin to ramp it up a little bit as the week progresses and we get closer to match day this Friday when we take on Australia.”

Combinations and execution

With the Women’s World Cup just over two months away Middleton also hopes to use the tour to look at different combinations and develop their game.

“It’s about fine tweaking things over the course of this tour,” he said.

“We want to cover all bases in terms of combinations and making sure that our game understanding and game execution are where we want them to be.”