England Women’s captain Katy McLean says her side are as ready as they will ever be to take on the world champions New Zealand on Saturday, kick off 5pm, at Twickenham Stadium following Australia versus the Barbarians.
McLean, who will lead her side for the first ever time against the mighty Black Ferns, is a survivor of the 2010 Rugby World Cup final which England narrowly lost 13-10 to their arch rivals.
Saturday marks the first time these two sides have met since the RWC and there is no doubt that the rivalry between England and New Zealand is as fierce as it has ever been.
Fly-half McLean, in her second season of captaining England, said: “We have been in our training camp for four days now and we have fitted a lot in. It is great being back in the camp environment; there’s a brilliant atmosphere with the new players fitting in well with the more experienced heads. It is certainly a good place to be at the moment.
“We have covered a lot in the time we’ve had and we are feeling good right now. Now it is a matter of counting down until Saturday as we can’t wait for this challenge. It’s time to stop talking off the pitch and do it on it and we are really ready.”
McLean knows better than most how devastated England were 14 months ago when New Zealand were crowned world champions. It was the third world cup final in a row where England failed to topple the all-conquering Black Ferns. But with time for reflection McLean is adamant that England and New Zealand are evenly matched rivals which will undoubtedly provide a thriller of a match on Saturday.
The Darlington Mowden Park Sharks player added: “A year ago we didn’t play so well. There is no doubt that New Zealand played better than us on the day but it was down to a performance on that day rather than there being a massive gulf between us and them. I know that if we had played the game we wanted to then we could have won.
“New Zealand are a phenomenal side but I think the pressure is on them. They are the world champions and I know if we can play at our best we have the ability to defeat them. The Twickenham pitch suits us and we have a good winning record there and we have every intention of maintaining that. New Zealand are not unbeatable.”
Saturday’s game signals the first of three test matches between England and New Zealand this autumn. The two sides will also clash on November 29th and December 3rd at Esher RFC.
Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
Rachael Burford (Richmond)
Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)
Laura Keates (Worcester)
La Toya Mason (Wasps)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
Claire Purdy (Wasps)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Amy Turner (Richmond)
Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
England Autumn International Series
Nov 26th England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm, live on Sky Sports HD 1 Red Button
Nov 29th England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm, live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive
Dec 3rd England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm, live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive
Tickets for the game at Twickenham on November 26th are available from Ticketmaster.co.uk and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.
Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29th and December 3rd will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. They can also be purchased in advance at www.esherrugby.com