The Women’s World Cup 2017 kicks off this afternoon and will be interesting.
There are a number of players that are likely to star and worth looking out for – obviously it starts with the whole of the England squad.
Here are a few more (not all are Red Roses)
Emily Scarratt (England)
A mainstay of the England team since she burst on to the Test scene nine years ago, centre Scarratt is a proven match-winner, which was perfectly illustrated during the 2014 World Cup final against Canada when she scored 16 points to steer her team home. Scarratt also captained Great Britain’s sevens squad at the Rio Olympics last year, and if she hits top form then England will benefit hugely.
Claire Molloy (Ireland)
Not only is Molloy a key player for host nation Ireland, she has been thrust further into the spotlight by taking over from injured star player Niamh Briggs as captain just a week ago. A qualified doctor who studied medicine at Cardiff University, 29-year-old flanker Molloy offers considerable experience of the Test match arena and will be integral to Irish hopes of making an impact on the tournament’s latter stages.
Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
Speed merchant Woodman is among the most devastating and prolific finishers in women’s rugby. She was part of New Zealand’s silver medal-winning sevens squad at the Rio Olympics, while her form in the 15-a-side code has proved equally impressive. The 26-year-old’s father, Kawhena, and uncle, Fred, were 1980s All Blacks, and Woodman is now maintaining that proud family tradition of performing at her sport’s highest level.
Magali Harvey (Canada)
Canada’s goalkicking wing is back for more, having played a key role in her team’s march to the 2014 World Cup final. Harvey made such an impact on that tournament, she was named women’s world player of the year just a few months later and remains the only Canadian player to achieve that honour. Like France, Canada are fancied by many over the next couple of weeks, with Harvey essential to any trophy-winning hopes.
Sene Naoupu (Ireland)
In the absence of injured captain Niamh Briggs, much of Ireland’s hopes will rest with Naoupu. The powerful back had an excellent Six Nations and constantly breaks the gain line with a decent turn of pace. Is used to playing sevens and has the speed to prove it. Married to Connacht back-rower George. Born in New Zealand, Naoupu considers herself Samoan. She has been in Ireland since 2011 and works as a lifestyle coach and fitness trainer.
Sarah Hunter (England)
Captain of the defending world champions who will controversially see their funding as professional athletes come to an end at the tournament’s finish. The Bristol forward has a mammoth 93 caps and is one of the best players in the world. As a powerful No 8, Hunter will be looking to give her team a platform with her charges from the back of the scrum. Was awarded an MBE for services to rugby in 2015.
Jasmine Joyce (Wales)
Wales are huge underdogs in Pool A where they are joined by New Zealand and Canada but in Joyce, they have a player who can challenge any defence. She burst on to the scene playing sevens at the Rio Olympics where she was the only non-English player in the Great Britain squad. She made her 15-a-side debut in the 2017 Six Nations. The flying winger will only improve further the more she plays. Also a sport and physical education student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Kelly Russell (Canada)
Captain Russell, alongside her younger sister Laura, is one of the key members of Canada’s hugely talented squad. Leads a veteran touring party in Ireland, but her experience and that of her team should see them there or thereabouts come the competition’s end. A loose forward, she has 35 international caps. At 30-years-old, this is likely to be her last World Cup and she’ll want to go out on a high.
Mahalia Murphy (Australia)
The Wallaroos are ranked sixth in the world, but have a potential gem in talented back Murphy. The 23-year-old was forced to stop playing her favourite sport of rugby league because of her gender, but switched codes to become a fully professional athlete. One to watch behind the scrum, the back from an indigenous Australian background is confident her team have a chance of World Cup glory. “We can definitely win, no doubt,” she said last month.
Fiao’o Fa’amausili (New Zealand)
Captain Fa’amausili is the most experienced member of her squad. She saw the Black Ferns lose to England earlier this summer in New Zealand and will be highly motivated to avoid a repeat and challenge the Red Roses and Canada for the trophy. Certainly her last World Cup and would like to finish with a repeat of her 2010 global glory.
Alev Kelter (USA)
Kelter won her first cap for the USA in 15-a-side rugby in what was her first time playing the game. She is an international novice, but has all the talent to be a tournament star after impressing on the sevens circuit. Also played junior soccer and ice hockey to international level, a sign of her top-class all-round sporting ability.
Safi N’Diaye (France)
France are one of the top three seeds alongside England and Canada and boast a strong-carrying forward in N’Diaye. The giant No 8 represented her country at the 2014 tournament. She’s a key part of France’s pack-dominated approach to crushing opponents. Had a barnstorming Six Nations and will want to carry on that fine form.
Danielle Waterman (England)
Nolli has played in three World Cups and three finals, and is England’s longest-serving current player. She also represented Team GB in sevens at the Rio Olympic Games.She made her Test debut in 2003, becoming the youngest girl at the age of 18 to represent her country, and has scored 41 tries in 70 Test appearances.
Rochelle Clark (England)
Rochelle, better known to her teammates as ‘Rocky’, achieved the distinction of being England’s most capped rugby player when overtaking Jason Leonard’s 114-cap total in the 12-10 win over Ireland at University College, Dublin last November. Rocky, who is in her 15th consecutive calendar year at international level,has played in all of the past 18 Six Nations matches and started 17 of them as well as the last three Women’s Rugby World Cups.
My favourite for MVP in the tournament is Emily Scarratt