England have named their team to take on New Zealand in the first of three November tests.
Head coach Gary Street has named a strong team to face the Black Ferns on November 14th in Esher with over 400 caps shared between the starting line-up. Catherine Spencer captains the side while Maggie Alphonsi and Tamara Taylor make welcome returns from injury after both missed the recent Nations Cup.
Street had to plan without five injured players as Rochelle Clark, Katy Storie, Sarah Hunter, Karen Jones and Danielle Waterman have all been sidelined but the side is strong on paper regardless.
England will be attempting to beat a New Zealand side who havent lost a match since 2001 though the last time the sides met in the World Cup Final in 2005, England lost narrowly 25-17. They will hoping to turn the tables ahead of the 2010 IRB Women's Rugby World Cup in London which is just nine months away.
Saracens' hooker Amy Garnett will win her 80th cap in the game while on the bench LeToya Mason, the Kiwi-born scrum-half who plays with Wasps, will be hoping to win her first cap against her native country.
Gary Street said: "Because we have a fantastic international programme, over the last few seasons we have been able to prepare for injury situations like this. It is disappointing that we have so many players injured for this very important period but we do have depth in our squad, and these games will certainly give us the chance to test ourselves against the best opposition in the world ahead of world cup next year.
"Despite losing these players I am delighted to welcome back Maggie Alphonsi and Tamara Taylor who are world class players, and natural leaders. They both played against New Zealand in the last world cup final so they will certainly add an important dimension to our squad.
"Having three games in seven days is going to be a demanding period of rugby for both us and New Zealand. I know they have some new caps in their squad, and I am sure they will be a very talented and determined side. We, however, can't wait to show them how we have moved on since our last meeting three years ago."
England A will also take on the Black Ferns on November 17th at Esher RFC, kick off 7pm, and then England will back in action against New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on November 21st, kick off 445pm, in the Investec Challenge Double Header, with entry to the stadium free after 415pm.
England Team to play the Black Ferns:
15 Charlotte Barras Saracens 14 Katherine Merchant Worcester 13 Emily Scarratt Lichfield 12 Alice Richardson Richmond 11 Fiona Pocock Richmond 10 Katy Mclean (VC) Darlington Mowden Park Sharks 9 Amy Turner Richmond 1 Claire Purdy Wasps 2 Amy Garnett Saracens 3 Sophie Hemming Bristol 4 Rebecca Essex Richmond 5 Joanna McGilchrist Wasps 6 Heather Fisher Worcester 7 Margaret Alphonsi Saracens 8 Catherine Spencer (C) Bristol Replacements: 16 Sam Reeve Worcester 17 Rosemarie Crowley Lichfield 18 Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks 19 Jane Leonard Team Northumbria / Army 20 La Toya Mason Wasps 21 Rachael Burford Richmond 22 Claire Allan Richmond