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Head coach Stuart Barrow believes his England team’s experienced players helped the five debutants to great success in their 42-0 win over France in Toulouse on Saturday.

Wigan’s 17-year-old half-back Isabel Rowe was among the quintet who made their first international appearances, while her clubmate Anna Davies scored two of the eight tries in her first England game.

In addition to them, players such as captain Jodie Cunningham, centre Amy Hardcastle and second row Emily Rudge were nominated, who together have made 91 international appearances.

Barrow told BBC Sport: “I wouldn’t say I was worried but when you bring in five (debutants) it’s probably a totally different England team from the last two or three years.”

“I sat there and thought, ‘I chose them because I know their qualities and what they bring, but I hope everything goes well’ – not for me, but for them.

“I thought they were thriving, but they were able to thrive because they had the people internally and externally. It’s easier to attract people when you have experienced professionals like Amy, Emily and Jodie around you.”

York full-back Georgie Hetherington also scored a try on her debut, while St Helens’ Katie Mottershead and Leeds’ Bella Sykes were also involved.

The two previous winners of Super League’s Woman of Steel award – York captain Sinead Peach, who is pregnant with her first child, and injured Valkyrie full-back Tara-Jane Stanley – were among those not selected for this trip.

Hollie-Mae Dodd and Georgia Roche, who play at club level in Australia’s NRLW, were also not included.

The depth and quality of English talent available has increased in recent seasons, helped by the evolution of the domestic competition in the Women’s Super League, and Leeds centre Hardcastle said it was “really exciting” to see young talent being brought into the England team.

She added: “For me it’s important to keep staying in the game, supporting the younger ones, helping them as much as I can, being a role model and an inspiration – I think it’s important that we as experienced players keep doing that.”

England’s preparations for Saturday’s match were not helped by flight delays, with the team arriving in the south of France late on Friday.

“Five or six hours (of waiting) could have tested anyone, it was definitely challenging for me, but the girls were great,” Barrow said.

“It created closer bonds, they chatted for six hours. That little adversity can sometimes bring you together faster than it can’t.”

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