Natasha Hunt catches the ball
Hunt has won 60 England caps

World Cup-winning scrum-half Natasha Hunt is set to miss out on a place in the England squad for this year’s tournament in New Zealand.

The less experienced Lucy Packer and recently returned Claudia MacDonald will be included ahead of Hunt when the squad is named on Tuesday.

Leanne Infante is expected to be England’s starting scrum-half.

Hunt, 33, returned for England’s 2022 Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam triumph after a break from international rugby.

But Packer, 22, did enough in England’s record 25th consecutive Test win against Wales on Wednesday to seal her place in the squad despite making only five international appearances.

MacDonald, 26, has returned from what looked like a career-ending injury, with wing Abby Dow also set to be included in the squad after breaking a leg in April.

The World Cup runs from 8 October to 12 November.

Hunt, part of the England team that won the World Cup in 2014, “stepped back” from Red Roses duty in 2021 because she was unhappy in the camp, but represented Great Britain in sevens at the Tokyo Olympics that summer.

After returning to the England squad in March, Hunt said she was enjoying the experience because “the weight is off”.

Head coach Simon Middleton said after the Wales win: “One of the scrum-halves is going to miss out and that is a massive shame because they are all world class.”

The 32-player squad will be named on Tuesday at 11:00 BST.


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