Emily Rudge of St Helens has been confirmed as the captain of the England Women’s team for the upcoming Downer World Cup Nines and the ground-breaking tour of Papua New Guinea this November.
Rudge has more caps – with 20 - than any other player in the England Women’s squad and was one of three contenders for the 2019 Telegraph Woman of Steel Award after helping St Helens to the semi-finals of both the Betfred Women’s Super League and Coral Challenge Cup.
She said: “I am honoured to have been named captain for the upcoming World Cup Nines and the tour of Papua New Guinea. I’ve been a part of the England Women’s set up for a number of years now and to get the opportunity to lead my country out will truly be the highlight of my career.
"The Nines will be interesting as it is a new format, but I think it will suit us as we have some fantastic players in our squad who like to play expansive rugby. The games against Papua New Guinea will be tough but a great test for us as a team and it will be a fantastic experience for everyone involved.”
England have made a change to their coaching team for the PNG tour, with the Leeds Rhinos prop and Women's coach Adam Cuthbertson replacing Castleford's Lindsay Anfield as assistant to the head coach Craig Richards.
Cuthbertson and Anfield will be on opposite sides this evening, as Leeds face Castleford in the Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final.
Cuthbertson said: “I’ve always been part of the Women’s set-up at Leeds and I’ve had my eyes on the international set-up for a while. I feel privileged to be given this opportunity with a great group of people.
“The tour to Papua New Guinea will offer a great test as it is such a physical and raw style of rugby they play. We’re almost going into the unknown but it’s these kinds of challenges that make you stronger as a squad and it will be a fantastic experience for everyone involved.
“My father was born and bred in Warrington, my son was born in Leeds and I’ve been in England for over five years now, so I definitely feel like I’ll fit in amongst the squad. Despite being born in Australia, I have a great understanding for English culture and I’m looking forward to representing England in my new capacity.”
England have also confirmed today that Wigan Warriors’ Georgia Wilson has been cleared to join the squad for the Downer World Cup Nines as a replacement for Shannon Lacey, the Leeds forward who picked up a head injury in the semi-finals of the Betfred Women’s Super League last weekend.
Revised England Women’s squad for the Downer World Cup Nines:
Dannielle Anderson (Leeds), Caitlin Beevers (Leeds), Leah Burke (St Helens), Chantelle Crowl (St Helens), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Faye Gaskin (St Helens), Kelsey Gentles (Castleford), Amy Hardcastle (Bradford), Shona Hoyle (St Helens), Rhiannion Marshall (Castleford), Sinead Peach (Castleford), Georgia Roche (Castleford), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford), Naomi Williams (St Helens), Georgia Wilson (Wigan).