England suffered their second successive women’s Rugby World Cup final loss to New Zealand at Eden Park last November
England interim head coach Louis Deacon has said losing last year’s World Cup final was “devastating”, but the squad also have some “great memories”.
The Red Roses were beaten 34-31 by hosts New Zealand in a thrilling final at Eden Park in November 2022.
England return to New Zealand this month for the inaugural WXV tournament.
Deacon said the “players are looking forward to going back” to the scene of that defeat.
“Losing the final was devastating, but a lot of us have got really great memories of New Zealand – we had a great nine weeks together in a great country,” Deacon said on Tuesday.
“I think a lot of the players are looking forward to going back.
“The biggest thing is that they want to improve and keep getting better, and it is an opportunity for us to test ourselves against the Black Ferns, Australia, Canada.
“There’s no real nerves or worry about going back.”
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Louis Deacon worked as a forwards coach under former England head coach Simon Middleton
WXV is a new international women’s rugby tournament featuring 18 teams from around the world split across three pools, to provide more competitive games between World Cups.
Promotion and relegation has been introduced between levels two and three, to give smaller nations more chance of progression.
England are in WXV1, the top tier, along with New Zealand, France, Canada, Australia and Wales. All the games will be played in New Zealand.
Deacon’s side face Australia in Wellington on 20 October, Canada in Dunedin a week later, then finish with a repeat of the World Cup final by playing New Zealand in Auckland on 4 November.
‘Observation role’ for new boss Mitchell
England are currently in a three-day camp before going home to their families, and then fly to New Zealand on Sunday, 8 October.
Ten days of acclimatisation then follow, where they will initially be based at a high-performance centre in Wellington.
It is an England side with a new leadership structure. Helena Rowland has been given a vice-captaincy position, with Deacon acknowledging they need more leadership in the backs.
Incoming England women’s boss John Mitchell is currently forwards coach for Japan
He also said England want to stop moving Rowland around positions and focus on her wearing the number 13.
“She, if fit, is a player who will be involved more often than not,” Deacon said of Rowland. “It is an area of the game where we are aiming to improve.
“She has got a positive influence in the way we play. She is highly respected – the most important thing to say – especially among the playing group.
“With Helena, we have probably moved her around too much. We are going to hopefully stick to one position – outside centre.”
Deacon confirmed that if incoming head coach John Mitchell joins England in New Zealand, he will do so in his new position but will take an “observation role” during WXV.
Mitchell will become England women’s head coach once his role with Japan’s men concludes after the current Rugby World Cup in France.
“We’ve had conversations, he has had some input, but he is concentrating on his work with Japan,” Deacon said of Mitchell. “We’ve kept him informed, and he is happy.
“Mitch has given us the framework. He will initially come in with an observation role, but still head coach mind. He will observe and see where we can tidy up a few things, and we go from there.”
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