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Amy Cokayne to make Red Roses return against Scotland

By Martyn Thomas
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: Amy Cokayne of England dives over to score the second try despite the attentions of Scotland wing Francesca McGhie during the TikTok Women's Six Nations match between England and Scotland at Kingston Park on March 25, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Amy Cokayne will pull on an England jersey for the first time in more than a year when the Red Roses take on Scotland at a sold-out Hive Stadium on Saturday.

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Cokayne is one of two personnel changes to John Mitchell’s side as the defending champions bid to maintain their unbeaten start to the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 in Edinburgh.

Lark Atkin-Davies is the player to make way for returning hooker Cokayne and the Bristol Bears star, who started the victories against Italy and Wales, drops out of the match-day squad altogether.

The only other change also comes in the pack as Abbie Ward is restored to the second row with captain Marlie Packer named among the replacements.

As a result, Zoe Aldcroft – who is in line to skipper the Red Roses for a second time – shifts to blindside flanker and Sadia Kabeya switches to openside.

England’s backs are unchanged from the 46-10 victory against Wales at Ashton Gate a fortnight ago as Holly Aitchison retains the number 10 jersey and Tatyana Heard and Megan Jones continue their centre partnership.

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Cokayne has not played for England since the second round of the 2023 Championship, against Italy at Franklin’s Gardens.

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A calf injury has hampered her involvement since then. Cokayne was a late withdrawal from last September’s second Test against Canada and although included in the squad for the Red Roses’ triumphant WXV 1 campaign, she did not see any action in New Zealand.

Fitness issues have also restricted her involvement with Leicester Tigers in their debut season in Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR).

Cokayne has made just two PWR appearances this season, having only made her Tigers debut against Trailfinders Women at the end of February, but will hope for a repeat of last year’s performance against Scotland when she returns to the Test arena in Edinburgh.

The 72-cap hooker started the corresponding fixture in Newcastle 13 months ago and scored two tries in a 58-7 win for the Red Roses at Kingston Park.

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England head coach Mitchell said: “The fallow week presented a moment to reflect on the opening rounds and grow the elements of our game.

“Our learnings all build towards evolving our performance. We are looking forward to building on this and taking another step forward together against Scotland this weekend.”

England (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 40 caps)
14. Abby Dow (Trailfinders Women, 42 caps)
13. Megan Jones (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 19 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Saracens, 35 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Bristol Bears, 27 caps)
9. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 69 caps)
1. Hannah Botterman (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Leicester Tigers, 72 caps)
3. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 27 caps)
4. Rosie Galligan (Saracens, 15 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 63 caps)
6. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 50 caps) – captain
7. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 15 caps)
8. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 63 caps)

Replacements:
16. Connie Powell (Harlequins, 16 caps)
17. Mackenzie Carson (Gloucester-Hartpury, 12 caps)
18. Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, 5 caps)
19. Maddie Feaunati (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
20. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 101 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 18 caps)
22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 48 caps)
23. Sydney Gregson (Saracens, 4 caps)

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Abe 3 hours ago
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Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 7 hours ago
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