England Women kick off Papua New Guinea tour

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England Women will kick off their tour of Papua New Guinea with the first of two tests against the Orchids on Saturday.

The Women will be playing their first game since the Nines World Cup, where they did beat the Orchids in Sydney.

England have named four debutants in the side with Kelsey Gentles, Tamzin Renouf, Grace Field and Shannon Lacey all putting on the white shirt for a test match for the first time in their careers.

It will be a historic affair, as it is the first home PNG match outside of the capital, Port Moresby.

Emily Rudge, the St Helens forward who will captain the team, said: “We were heading into the unknown when we found out we were coming to Goroka, but we’ve had an amazing welcome.

“The people of Goroka have been so friendly, welcoming and supportive of us when we’ve been out to the local hospitals and schools and I’m hopeful they’ll all turn out in force to witness a great game between ourselves and the Orchids.

“It is going to be an historic Test with it being the first Women’s international outside of Port Moresby and for Women’s sport to be given this sort of platform in a rural area of Papua New Guinea is truly ground-breaking.”

England’s coach Craig Richards said: “We’ve had a really positive week in Brisbane preparing for this first Test in Goroka.

“The girls have really put in the work over the past few days and have looked sharp throughout training, so I’m confident heading into our first game in Papua New Guinea.

“We know it’s going to be a physical test against a powerful PNG side. We’ve come here to be challenged and we know the Orchids are going to do that both mentally and physically.

“The environment will also test us particularly in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands with the heat and humidity posing a real challenge for us but we’re ready to embrace all of it.

“It’s about coming away from this tour fitter, better and stronger with the long-term goal of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup always in our mind.”

The match kicks off at 4am UK time.

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