Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton has named his side to take on Spain in their 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup opener on Wednesday at UCD Bowl in Dublin.
England are defending champions having won the tournament in France in 2014 when they beat Canada in the final, and are ranked the number one side in the world off the back of a nine-match winning streak.
No 8 Sarah Hunter leads the team that includes nine players who will make their Women’s Rugby World Cup debuts including Vickii Cornborough, Heather Kerr, Sarah Bern, Harriett Millar-Mills, Izzy Noel-Smith, Abbie Scott and Zoe Aldcroft who all start in the pack.
In the backs Megan Jones and Leanne Riley, who both featured in England’s successful three-Test tour in New Zealand this June, will also make their first World Cup appearances.
On the bench, forwards Poppy Cleall, Amy Cokayne and Justine Lucas could take the number of World Cup debutants up to 12 if they feature, while Emily Scarratt, who won the World Cup three years ago, is set to make her 70th appearance if she comes on as a replacement.
Full back Danielle Waterman and inside centre Rachael Burford will be appearing in their fourth World Cup having played in every tournament since 2006.
“We are really happy with the way our tournament preparation has gone and the squad have worked really hard over the past number of months,” said head coach Simon Middleton.
“Now it’s about translating that hard work and preparation and delivering performance on the pitch. We have a strong squad and want to use the full depth available to us throughout the tournament; we are looking forward getting underway.”
The Red Roses played Spain, who are ranked eighth in the world, at the last Women’s Rugby World Cup which resulted in a comfortable 45-5 victory.
The game will be broadcast live on ITV 4 with kick-off at 2pm with radio coverage available on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and live text commentary on World Rugby’s website.
England Women matchday 23 against Spain, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
15. Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 70 caps); 14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 34 caps), 13. Megan Jones (Bristol, 4 caps), 12. Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies, 67 caps), 11. Kay Wilson (Richmond, 45 caps); 10. Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 86 caps), 9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 11 caps); 1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies, 26 caps), 2. Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 8 caps), 3. Sarah Bern (Bristol, 11 caps), 4. Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 17 caps), 5. Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 4 caps), 6. Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 46 caps), 7. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 32 caps), 8. Sarah Hunter (C) (Bristol, 93 caps).
Replacements: 16. Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 28 caps), 17. Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 124 caps), 18. Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 22 caps), 19. Poppy Cleall (Bristol, 12 caps), 20. Alex Matthews (Richmond, 32 caps), 21. La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 66 caps), 22. Amber Reed (Bristol, 39 caps), 23. Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 69 caps) (VC).
Schedule Pool BEngland v Spain
Wednesday 9 August – UCD Bowl, Dublin (KO 2pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 1.30pm
England v Italy
Sunday 13 August – Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV1 from 2pm
England v USA
Thursday 17 August - Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 2pm