England Women Head Coach Craig Richards has appointed his coaching staff and selected a 38-strong National Performance Squad for 2020.
Richards will continue to be assisted by Leeds Rhinos forward, and former Women’s Head Coach, Adam Cuthbertson; and former England international Shaun Briscoe, both of whom travelled with England Women to Papua New Guinea last year.
The National Performance Squad will form the teams for the 2020 Women’s Origin Series, which kicks off at Weetwood this weekend, before an England Women Performance Squad (EWPS) and a new Knights squad (EWKPS) are selected as preparations toward the 2021 Rugby League World Cup continue.
The first-ever England Women Knights Performance Squad will be coached by Women’s Rugby League legend Lois Forsell, who has succeeded Cuthbertson at the Rhinos, and two-time Super League Man of Steel Paul Sculthorpe MBE.
Richards said: “I am extremely pleased to be continuing as England Women’s Head Coach with some fantastic backroom staff alongside me.
“It is brilliant that we’ve been able to keep Adam and Shaun ahead of 2020. Shaun has worked with the players for nearly a year now while Adam was a fantastic addition to the coaching staff ahead of last year’s tour of Papua New Guinea.
“The brand-new England Women Knights set-up is a great step forward for the Women’s game and the National Performance Programme. It will help introduce younger Women’s Super League stars to the international set-up and will allow us to work closely with these players at an earlier stage.
“The introduction of Lois and Paul as England Women Knights coaches is a huge boost. I am delighted that Lois will continue to be involved in the England set-up following her retirement and she will bring a huge amount of experience while Paul’s CV speaks for itself.
“It is important we have the best people and preparations in place as we build towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup on home soil and I believe we are now in an even stronger position.”
Fran Goldthorp – who crossed for a double in last year’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final – has been selected alongside 11 other Leeds Rhinos players; with the 2019 double winners having more players in the squad than any other side.
Fellow 16-year-old Hollie Dodd – who made headlines last July when she made her first-team debut in the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final – is one of 10 Castleford Tigers representatives.
2019 Women’s Challenge Shield winners the British Army are also represented with the inclusion of Carrie Roberts, while Abby Eatock – of Leeds – recently moved to Headingley from the Army.
Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves have both been added to the Betfred Women’s Super League ahead of the 2020 season and both clubs have players in this year’s National Performance Squad.
Warrington duo Roxy Murdoch-Masila and Rowanne Smalley are named while Isabel Bibby is Huddersfield’s sole representative. Amy Hardcastle is the only Bradford Bulls player included with Charlotte Booth also selected following her move to West Brisbane Panthers earlier this month.
The remaining 11 places are shared between North-West rivals St Helens and Wigan Warriors with Paige Travis – of St Helens – and Vicky Molyneux – of the Warriors – being two new additions.
England Women are currently in discussions regarding international fixtures for Autumn 2020, with a focus on the Northern Hemisphere after the experience gained in Sydney and Papua New Guinea in 2019.