Star names return for England Women
England Women’s Sevens coach Barry Maddocks has signalled his intentions by recalling a host of star names to the squad for the second round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Houston, USA, on 1-2 February.
Maddocks took a young squad to the inaugural round in Dubai last month with the likes of Emily Scarratt, Kat Merchant, Alex Matthews, Heather Fisher, Jo Watmore and Michaela Staniford remaining at home for England's three-Test series with world champions New Zealand.
That decision led to an historic 3-0 series whitewash by England, but this time the experienced names will be on Sevens duty in Houston and not facing Scotland in the opening round of the RBS Women’s Six Nations the same weekend.
England finished seventh in Dubai and will face a tricky pool in Houston with round one winners New Zealand, the fast-developing Netherlands and Series newcomers Trinidad & Tobago awaiting them at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
Only Sarah Guest and Ruth Laybourn keep their places from Dubai with Marlie Packer the only player in the squad not to have played for England Sevens before. Alice Richardson will captain the squad, who are all part of England’s training squad for RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow from 28-30 June.
“I am really excited to include Katy (McLean), Alex and Marlie in this squad. The three of them are already really good rugby players but they have still got a lot to learn about Sevens rugby,” said Maddocks.
“This is a great opportunity for them and I am sure they will do themselves proud. I am certainly really excited to see how they do in Houston.
“This is a really tough pool undoubtedly but for us this tournament is about measuring where we are in relation to our opponents as we continue to prepare and build for the RWC Sevens.
“It is going to be hard but we will focus on each game as it comes and I know the players will put every effort into putting ourselves into the best possible place we can be at this stage of our journey.”
England Women’s Sevens squad
Heather Fisher, Sarah Guest, Natasha Hunt, Ruth Laybourn, Alexandra Matthews, Katy McLean, Katherine Merchant, Marlie Packer, Alice Richardson (captain), Emily Scarratt, Michaela Staniford, Joanne Watmore.