McLean and Taylor to play key roles in World Cup

Katy McLean and Tamara Taylor.
Katy McLean and Tamara Taylor.

Two South Tyneside rugby stars will tomorrow start out on what they hope will be a final golden journey.

Katy McLean and Tamara Taylor look set to be key players for England who begin their defence of women’s Rugby World Cup.

The Red Roses play the opening match of the tournament in Dublin, where they face Spain in Group B.

Mclean, from South Shields, led England to glory in France in 2014, when they beat Canada in the final, Taylor starring in the mighty Whites pack.

While no longer the skipper, Mclean looks set to play in the pivotal stand-off role in what is likely to be her last World Cup, especially given Emily Scott has been ruled out by injury.

The 31-year-old, who has played 86 times for her country, will be charged with the task of dictating play from number 10.

Taylor, 35, who coaches Durham Northumberland league side Jarrovians, is a certainty to line up in the England second row for her 106th cap.

England’s women head into the competition as the number one ranked side on the planet and on the back of a brilliant nine-match winning streak.

The side won the RBS 6 Nations, completing the Grand Slam on the way, though Mclean missed the climax after being sent off against Italy following a dangerous tackle.

But the Darlington Mowden Park star returned for the International Women’s Rugby Series in New Zealand, where they enjoyed a clean sweep against Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The Red Roses play their pool games in Dublin, against Spain (tomorrow) Italy (on Sunday) and USA (a week on Thursday), all with 2.30pm kick-offs.

All of England’s games will be broadcast live on ITV or ITV 4. The tournament then moves to Belfast.

England are captained by Sarah Hunter, who said: “We have got the title of world champions but that means nothing now.

“That has been and gone. Everyone starts from scratch and the slate is wiped clean.”