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Quartet named in Red Roses pre-season training squad

Four Bristol Bears have been named in Head coach Simon Middleton's 37-player Red Roses pre-season training squad ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.


Sarah Bern, Abbie Ward, Amber Reed and new signing Lark Davies are all included, as England begin their preparations on Monday (July 4th) with the first of three mini-training camps throughout July, all taking place at the University of Bath.

They will then continue to fine-tune their preparations for New Zealand with more camps throughout August in the build-up to their two September Internationals v USA (Saturday 3 September, Sandy Park, kick-off 3pm) and Wales (Tuesday 14 September, Ashton Gate, kick-off 7.30pm). Tickets for both matches are available here.

All 30 contracted players are selected including Abby Dow who will continue her rehabilitation from a broken leg throughout the pre-season period.

Cath O’Donnell, who missed the majority of last season through injury is back in the fold as is Loughborough Lightning team-mate Morwenna Talling following an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Meanwhile, Claudia MacDonald also returns to the group as the neck issue that caused her to miss the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations and final months of the Allianz Premier 15s season has resolved.

Reigning World Rugby player of the year Zoe Aldcroft is included alongside captain Sarah Hunter and vice-captain Emily Scarratt.

Scrum half Lucy Packer and front row forward Maud Muir are both selected after impressive breakthrough campaigns.

Fresh from her two maiden caps in this year’s Six Nations, Gloucester-Hartpury’s Emma Sing, who was also the Allianz Premier 15s’ top points scorer for 2021/22, is also included.

England Rugby are also delighted to confirm the appointment of Robin Eager as the Red Roses’ new physical performance lead.

Eager worked in the academy systems at Leicester Tigers and Gloucester Rugby in his early career. Eager has spent the past eight seasons working within the England Men’s Pathway, initially supporting then leading the strength and conditioning provision for the U20s side.

Eager has also previously been involved in the senior men’s set-up throughout the 2015/16 season. 

His most recent role at the RFU was Men's Pathway Athletic Performance Manager, a position he has held since 2019.

Middleton said: “It goes without saying this is a big season for the Red Roses, with this calendar year alone culminating in the tournament in New Zealand.

“Returns for Cath O’Donnell and Morwenna Talling are a huge boost for us after long term injuries. Both are extremely talented and committed players who have worked hard to return to fitness. They bring additional qualities to the group and add to what is already a highly competitive squad. Cath has an outstanding physical presence in all aspects of the game and has consistently performed on the international stage. Morwenna is also very physical and has a great rugby brain and skill set. Both players have the ability to change the momentum of play, which is a key attribute for any international player. It’s vital they’re in camp and can spend some consistent time with the group. 
“We’re also really pleased to welcome Claudia back following her successful return from a neck injury. As with Cath and Morwenna, to be able to add a player of Claudia’s ability and quality to the squad is a real boost for us at this stage and further strengthens our depth at scrum half. Claudia’s ability to play wing to a high level adds even greater strength in depth to the squad and provides some essential versatility. 
“I’m really happy with the feel of the squad. We have plenty of experience, a sprinkling of really talented young players and players who will be coming back into the set-up after a period out. I feel the balance is very good and the competitive levels will be very high. 

"On the youth front, Sadia Kabeya, Lucy Packer and Maud Muir certainly fall into that category as does Rosie Galligan, who has had a great impact on the international scene this year and is still only 24. The likes of Connie Powell and Emma Sing were part of our Six Nations squad and have deserved another opportunity to stake their claim for New Zealand. With Emma Sing we’ve seen real progression through her training with the Red Roses. She had a brilliant season for Gloucester-Hartpury and her physicality and strong all round skill set brings a point of difference to our back field options. There is a good balance of youth and experience across the squad for sure. 
“We have named this squad but there are a number of key players we are still monitoring, keeping an eye on and who could most definitely join us later in the pre-season period. 
“We’re also thrilled to welcome Robin Eager to the set-up. Robin joins us with a wealth of experience and is exactly what we are looking for to help us take our performance to the next level. We're delighted he’s joining the programme.
“Bath is a great location. We spent some of our pre-season camps there last year, the facilities are excellent, and we were made to feel very welcome.”
Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Sarah Beckett (Harlequins)
Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears)
Hannah Botterman (Saracens)
Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins)
Bryony Cleall (Wasps)
Poppy Cleall (Saracens)
Amy Cokayne (Harlequins)
Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins)
Lark Davies (Bristol Bears)  
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Rosie Galligan (Harlequins)*
Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning)
Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning)*
Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning)
Marlie Packer (Saracens)
Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning)*
Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears)
Holly Aitchison (Saracens)
Jess Breach (Harlequins)
Abby Dow (Wasps)
Zoe Harrison (Saracens)
Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins)
Claudia MacDonald (Wasps)*
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Lucy Packer (Harlequins)
Amber Reed (Bristol Bears)
Leanne Infante (Bristol Bears) 
Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning)
Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning)
Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors)

*denotes non-contracted player
The forthcoming pre-season training camps act as crucial preparation for the team’s Rugby World Cup 2021 campaign which begins on 8 October. Tickets are now available here.  

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