Debutant Lacey Owen one of six York Valkyrie players in England v Wales international at Headingley
Second-rower Lacey Owen is poised to make her international debut after an outstanding domestic season, culminating in a try during the Grand Final win over Leeds Rhinos which secured York Valkyrie’s first Women’s Super League title. She is joined in the squad by club-mates Sinead Peach, Tamzin Renouf, Olivia Wood and Tara-Jane Stanley.
Leeds Rhinos’ Caitlin Beevers, Keara Bennett, Amy Hardcastle and Zoe Hornby are all in contention to feature on home turf.
Former Leeds and Castleford stand-off Georgia Roche is also included for what will be her first game since winning the NRL Women’s (NRLW) Grand Final with Newcastle Knights last month.
England will be expected to cruise to a big win, but coach Stuart Barrow insisted he has seen no signs of complacency.
He said: “We’ve been in camp for a few days and I have been really impressed with everyone’s attitude and commitment. We’re all focused on the challenge ahead and I think we are in a good place heading into Saturday.”
Wales are captained by Rhinos forward Bethan Dainton who has been named in their initial squad despite suffering a sternum injury during last weekend’s defeat in France. York’s Georgia Taylor is also included. Wales were beaten 14-4 in Carcassonne last Sunday and their coach Tom Brindle admitted: “England are one of the top teams in the world and we know the size of the challenge.
"They are a largely unchanged squad from last year’s World Cup where they reached the semi-finals. For us, it’s about trying to do the right things, putting structures in place to develop and learn.
“Playing in front of bigger crowds and live on the BBC is part of putting ourselves in uncomfortable positions and getting used to that pressure. Hopefully that means when we get to a World Cup, we’re used to that sort of experience.”
England (from): Caitlin Beevers, Keara Bennett (both Leeds Rhinos), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Anna Davies (Wigan Warriors), Amy Hardcastle (Leeds), Shona Hoyle (St Helens), Zoe Hornby (Leeds), Tara Jones (St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan), Lacey Owen (York Valkyrie), Eboni Partington (St Helens), Sinead Peach (York), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Georgia Roche (Newcastle Knights), Tamzin Renouf, Olivia Wood, Tara-Jane Stanley (all York), Paige Travis, Vicky Whitfield (both St Helens).
Referee: Enzo Peyre (France). Kick-off: Saturday, noon, at Headingley.