Four new faces for England in China
Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made six changes to the England squad that lifted the Houston IRB Women’s Sevens World Series title in February.
Richmond duo Claire Allan and Fran Matthews, Thurrock’s Rachael Burford and Worcester’s Lydia Thompson are all set to make their Series debuts, with Burford returning from a long-term injury that has kept her sidelined all season.
Also included in the squad are Wasps’ Natasha Brennan and Richmond’s Abigail Chamberlain who both featured in the opening round of the Series in Dubai. Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt will captain England for the first time with Michaela Staniford named as vice-captain.
Maddocks said: “This is a different looking squad to the one that won in Houston and I am excited to see how they fare. It is great to welcome back the likes of Claire Allan and Rachael Burford, who are both quality players with a lot of international sevens experience.
“I’ve said all along I wanted to give players as much experience as possible as we build towards the World Cup in June and that is what we are doing. Players like Abigail Chamberlain and Lydia Thompson have done well in the Six Nations and deserve their chance.”
England head to China sitting third in the Women's Sevens World Series standings behind New Zealand and Australia and will be looking to replicate their winning form from Houston in Guangzhou. In the pool stages they will play China, USA and Fiji.
Maddocks added: “As always our expectations are high but actually this is still a building process for us and at this stage it is all about getting the squad in as good as shape as they can be for the World Cup.
“China is definitely going to be a challenging tournament and our pool is tough. Playing the USA, who we faced in the Houston final, is going to be a massive game whilst China are hosts and they’ll be buoyed by that, and as for Fiji, we know very little about them with this being their World Series debut.”
England Sevens squad: Claire Allan (Richmond), Natasha Brennan (Wasps), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Francesca Matthews (Richmond), Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Emily Scarratt (captain) (Lichfield), Michaela Staniford (vice captain) (Wasps), Lydia Thompson (Worcester)