England make one change for Saturday's Grand Slam decider
Emily Scarratt will lead England into their TikTok Six Nations Grand Slam decider against France on Saturday in the absence of Sarah Hunter. Hunter sits out the clash in Bayonne because of the rib injury sustained against Ireland in round four, so outside centre Scarratt takes the leadership duties.
Poppy Cleall replaces Hunter at number eight in the only change to the Six Nations starting XV as England target a fourth successive championship title. “This game will not define us as a team, but there is no hiding away from the fact that so much is riding on the game,” said head coach Simon Middleton.
“I suspect everyone looked at this fixture at the start of the Six Nations and singled it out as a potential decider, well that is what we have come to. France have been in great form during the campaign but so have we… Saturday will not define us as a team but there’s no hiding away from the fact that so much is riding on the game. That’s fine by us, we want that level of challenge, otherwise how do you realise your potential and prove your worth?
“Matches against France are always tight affairs. We know this one will be no different. I believe it will come down to which squad can maintain their intensity and focus, something we have done well in this competition. We are looking forward to the challenge.
“We are all disappointed for Sarah Hunter on missing the game due to injury. If it was up to Sarah she would have played but she was not medically available for selection. I’m pleased she is able to join us over in France to support preparations. At the same time, it gives us another opportunity to test our leadership depth in the most pressurised of situations and to that end, we are in good hands with Emily Scarratt leading the side.
“Abbie Ward is named as vice-captain for this game. Abbie is a natural leader within our ranks and as one of Sarah’s generals has helped to lead the side brilliantly, she is an integral member of the squad and I know she is proud to have this role this weekend.”
ENGLAND (vs France, Saturday)
15. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 14 caps)
14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 52 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (capt; Loughborough Lightning, 100 caps)
12. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 7 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Harlequins, 21 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 37 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Bristol Bears, 50 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 68 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 39 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 29 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (VC; Bristol Bears, 54 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 49 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 82 caps)
8. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 54 caps)
16. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 61 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 27 caps)
18. Maud Muir (Wasps, 8 caps)
19. Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 5 caps)
20. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins, 23 caps)
21. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)
22. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 58 caps)
23. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 22 caps)
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