Young forwards Kabeya and Talling make England’s World Cup squad

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Women's International - England Training - Twickenham, London, Britain - August 11, 2022 England's Sadia Kabeya cools down during the hot weather during training Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON (Reuters) -Women’s World Cup favourites England included Loughborough Lightning’s 20-year-old forwards Sadia Kabeya and Morwenna Talling in a 32-player squad on Tuesday that also contained six players who helped lift the trophy in 2014.

Kabeya, with four caps to her name and a hugely destructive tackler, got the nod ahead of established back rowers Vicky Fleetwood and Sarah Beckett, while second row Talling, also with four caps, was included despite a recent injury scare.

Captain Sarah Hunter, Emily Scarratt, Marlie Packer, Laura Keates, Alex Matthews and Lydia Thompson are the six survivors from 2014. Winger Abby Dow also made the cut after recovering from a broken leg in this year’s Six Nations.

Experienced scrumhalf Natasha Hunt was not included as head coach Simon Middleton chose Leanne Infante, Claudia MacDonald and Lucy Packer.

Hunter will continue as captain in her fourth World Cup appearance as England seek a third title having lost in the final to New Zealand in 2017, the fourth time they have lost to them in the final in the last five tournaments.

“While this is a squad announcement and not about singling out individuals, it would be remiss not to reference our captain, Sarah Hunter,” Middleton said in a statement.

“Sarah is a better captain now than she has ever been. She has owned the captaincy and how she represents the squad on and off the field is absolutely brilliant.

“When you work with someone for so long you sometimes need to remind yourself of her outstanding attributes, she is unbelievable in how she conducts herself. Her pride in and love of representing her country is as strong as ever. She is a class act and we are very fortunate to have her leading the side at this tournament.

“We are really confident with the balance of the squad. I am pleased with the way the team is gelling and how our game is coming together. There is still plenty to work on, we expect to improve game-on-game.”

England have won a record 25 tests in a row and are ranked number one in the world going into the tournament, which begins on Oct. 8 when they face Fiji in their opening Pool C game. They will then take on France and South Africa. The final is in Auckland on Nov. 12

England World Cup squad:

Forwards

Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 32 caps)

Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 46 caps)

Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 30 caps)

Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins, 27 caps)

Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 57 caps)

Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 64 caps)

Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 70 caps)

Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)

Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 7 caps)

Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 135 caps)

Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)

Laura Keates (University of Worcester Warriors, 62 caps)

Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 51 caps)

Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 11 caps)

Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 20 caps)

Marlie Packer (Saracens, 84 caps)

Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 5 caps)

Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)

Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 56 caps)

Backs

Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 10 caps)

Jess Breach (Saracens, 23 caps)

Abby Dow (Wasps, 24 caps)

Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 40 caps)

Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 5 caps)

Leanne Infante (Saracens, 52 caps)

Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 25 caps)

Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 20 caps)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 42 caps)

Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 5 caps)

Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 5 caps)

Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 103 caps)

Lydia Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors, 54 caps)

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