McKenna named in Sevens side for World Series

Sarah McKenna. Picture:

Sarah McKenna. Picture: - Credit: Archant

Former Harpenden schoolgirl Sarah McKenna has been named in the England Women’s side for this weekend’s fourth round of the Sevens World Series in Canada.

Head coach Simon Middleton has made two changes for the match, with World Cup winning captain Katy Mclean as well as Saracens’ Leanne Riley, as England look to improve on their current sixth place standing in the World Series.

“This is a fresh and young looking squad who we hope will bring lots of energy to our campaign,” said Middleton, who side finished seventh last time out in Atlanta.

“It’s great to also welcome back the likes of Katy Mclean, who will not only add experience but outstanding quality to the squad. Leanne Riley has also been training outstandingly well all season and has shown great patience waiting for her chance. She now has it and I’m looking forward to seeing her play in Canada. She’s an intelligent and dynamic player whose skill set will add good options in either the hooker or scrum half role.”

England head into round four knowing they must improve on their recent form if they are to secure an automatic place for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics Games. They need to finish in the top four, otherwise they’ll be left to battle it out in further European qualifying tournaments this summer.

Middleton’s side face a tough opening day though with reigning World Series champions New Zealand as well as Spain and Fiji in their pool.

Middleton added: “There’s no hiding from the fact that this is a huge leg in terms of achieving our objectives for the season, but we won’t be looking any further than our first game against Spain and then looking to build momentum on what we hope will be a solid start.

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“We’ve generally performed well on the opening day of tournaments, winning our groups in both Dubai and the USA but we know we will need to be at our very best in what is sure to be a tough group this time around. We haven’t played New Zealand or Spain so far this season so it’s exciting to be facing new opposition.

“We know nothing but our best will be good enough to take on New Zealand - a side who have won all three legs of the World Series so far. They are a cut above everyone else at the moment both in terms of ability and mind-set and it’s always a great challenge to take them on.

“In Fiji, you never know what you may get but at their best they can be almost impossible to defend against, so it pays to have the ball. However, first up we have Spain who have pace, skill and are ultra-competitive at the breakdown. That’s where our competition starts and that’s what we need to get right before we meet Fiji and New Zealand.”


England Women Sevens Squad

Natasha Brennan (Richmond)

Abigail Chamberlain (c) (Richmond)

Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)

Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

Marlie Packer (Wasps)

Alice Richardson (Richmond)

Leanne Riley (Saracens)

Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

Michaela Staniford (Wasps)

Joanne Watmore (Richmond)

Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens)