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England name Six Nations team with 7 changes from World Cup final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images)

Simon Middleton has named an England team to face Scotland in Saturday’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations which shows seven changes from the side that started the Rugby World Cup last November. The English lost out 31-34 to New Zealand in that thrilling final in Auckland and they are now set to open their Six Nations title defence with a much changed XV.

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Gone from the starting pack are Vickii Cornborough, Abbie Ward and Alex Matthews, the uncapped Mackenzie, Poppy Cleall and Sadia Kabeya stepping up. Behind the scrum, Zoe Harrison, Emily Scarratt, Lydia Thompson and Ellie Kildunne with Jess Breach, Lagi Tuima, Amber Reed and Claudia MacDonald.

Holly Aitchison, who started the World Cup final in midfield, will slot into the injured Harrison’s position at out-half while her England partner at centre Abby Dow switches to full-back for the Six Nations opening round game.

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A statement read: “Sarah Hunter will lead her side for one final time at No8 after announcing she is to retire following the match in her hometown of Newcastle. Saracens prop Mackenzie Carson has been called up to England’s Six Nations squad after her birthright transfer to represent the Red Roses was confirmed. The 24-year-old qualifies for England through her English mother.

“Having previously earned three caps for Canada, including one against England during the autumn internationals in 2018, Carson has made herself available to play for England under World Rugby’s birthright transfer rules which allow a capped player to switch allegiance to another country they are eligible to play for following a three-year stand-down period.

“Lock Rosie Galligan will miss the tournament after sustaining a hamstring injury in training last week. Meanwhile, scrum-half Natasha Hunt is unavailable for selection for this fixture due to a calf injury.”

England boss Middleton said: “We are all really looking forward to Saturday’s Six Nations match in Newcastle. There has been a brilliant atmosphere in camp and with a mix of new and experienced players, there is a real buzz. A number of players are in line to earn their first caps, and this is an excellent and deserved opportunity.

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“This is a very new squad and they have been asked to train hard and learn fast over the last three weeks. This week we have really been able to see the cohesion starting to develop and we can’t wait for the team to get out there on Saturday. We are all absolutely gutted for Rosie Galligan, she brings so much to the squad and losing her for the tournament is a significant blow.

“Rosie is not only an outstanding player but has really stepped up in terms of leadership qualities. She brings an incredible amount of positive energy to everything she does and that has a massive positive effect on those around her. She will be missed for sure but like everything with Rosie you know she will come back stronger.

“Natasha (Mo) Hunt has also picked up a knock and is ruled out of this game. Mo has brought her club form into England and has trained really well up until this point so it’s hugely disappointing to lose her for this game. We are confident we will see her back later on in the tournament.”

England (vs Scotland, Saturday – 4:45pm)
15. Abby Dow (Harlequins, 30 caps)
14. Jess Breach (Saracens, 24 caps)
13. Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 12 caps)
12. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 62 caps)
11. Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 24 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 15 caps)
9. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 9 caps)
1. Mackenzie Carson (Saracens, uncapped)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 70 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 52 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 38 caps)
5. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 63 caps)
6. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 8 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (CC; Saracens, 89 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (CC; Loughborough Lightning, 140 caps)

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Replacements:
16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
17. Liz Crake (Wasps, uncapped)
18. Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, uncapped)
19. Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 24 caps)
20. Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury, 25 caps)
21. Ella Wyrwas (Saracens, uncapped)
22. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 9 caps)
23. Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury, 2 caps)

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