St Helens women form backbone of England side to face Papua New Guinea

Emily Rudge scores against PNG women in the Rugby League World Cup 9s, Picture: SWPix
Emily Rudge scores against PNG women in the Rugby League World Cup 9s, Picture: SWPix

St Helens will form the backbone of the England Women's team which faces Papua New Guinea in a history-making international, the first-ever outside the country's capital, Port Moresby.

The match will be staged tomorrow (4am GMT) in Goroka, capital of the Eastern Highlands province which is best-known in Rugby League as the birthplace of the former Hull and Hull KR favourite, Stanley Gene.

Saints forward Emily Rudge, who will captain the tourists, said: “We were heading into the unknown when we found out we were coming to Goroka, but we’ve had an amazing welcome.

“The people have been so friendly, welcoming and supportive of us when we’ve been out to the local hospitals and schools and I’m hopeful they’ll all turn out in force to witness a great game between ourselves and the Orchids.

“It is going to be an historic Test with it being the first women’s international outside of Port Moresby and for women’s sport to be given this sort of platform in a rural area of Papua New Guinea is truly ground-breaking.”

Rudge will be joined in the side by five of her St Helens team-mates – including Faye Gaskin and Jodie Cunningham, who will form a new half-back pairing with Castleford’s Georgia Roche to be introduced from the interchange bench.

The second Test will be played at Port Moresby’s Oil Search Stadium next Saturday ,November 17, ahead of the men’s Test between Great Britain and the PNG Kumuls – and the RFL hopes to be able to confirm live coverage on Our League next week.

England team – each player listed with England Women RL Heritage number:

1 Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford, 43)

2 Rebecca Greenfield (Wigan, 71)

3 Rachel Thompson (Wigan, 69)

4 Naomi Williams (St Helens, 72)

5 Kelsey Gentles (Castleford, 79)

6 Jodie Cunningham (St Helens, 33)

7 Faye Gaskin (St Helens, 57)

8 Amy Johnson (Leeds, 76)

9 Tara Jones (St Helens, 50)

10 Grace Field (Castleford, 78)

11 Emily Rudge (St Helens, captain, 27)

12 Chantelle Crowl (St Helens, 67)

13 Shannon Lacey (Leeds, 80)

14 Dannielle Anderson (Leeds, 75)

15 Tamzin Renouf (Castleford, 81)

16 Charlotte Booth (Leeds, 49)

17 Georgia Roche (Castleford, 74)

18 Sinead Peach (Castleford, 65)