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England name their team for Saturday's women's Six Nations opener

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

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England coach Simon Middleton has named his team for Saturday’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations opener against Scotland in Edinburgh. Sarah Hunter captains the side at No8 while Emily Scarratt returns to the starting XV at outside centre following a lengthy injury lay-off and is selected as vice-captain.

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Marlie Packer is set to earn her 80th cap at openside flanker while Saracens teammate Poppy Cleall is at blindside flanker. Maud Muir represents her country at loosehead prop for the first time with Lark Davies (hooker) and Sarah Bern (tighthead prop) forming the front row. Harlequins’ Rosie Galligan makes her first Red Roses appearance in over three years and earns her second cap at lock.

Bristol Bears duo Abbie Ward and Leanne Infante are at lock and scrum-half respectively. Helena Rowland and Holly Aitchison make up the 10-12 axis while Ellie Kildunne, Heather Cowell and Abby Dow are the back three.

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Bryony Cleall returns to the England Six Nations group after missing the autumn internationals through injury. She takes her place on the bench alongside uncapped Emma Sing, who is in line for her senior debut.

England Six Nations boss Middleton said: “We are really looking forward to this weekend’s opening game. We have had a good start to the week training at Bisham Abbey and are excited to be in Edinburgh to fine-tune our preparations. We have named a strong side and are looking forward to seeing how the group fare.

“We have great strength-in-depth, the whole squad have trained well and it’s important we give players opportunities and at the same time look at a couple of new combinations. Emma Sing is a player we have been working with for a while, she has impressed both in our camps and for Gloucester-Hartpury in the Allianz Premier 15s. She deserves this opportunity in what is a competitive group.

“It’s also great to welcome Rosie Galligan back into the fold. She exemplifies what international rugby is about in that she was given an opportunity and to this point, she has taken it. Her contribution in training has been first class. Both Emma and Rosie bring even more depth and competition in two key positions in the squad.

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“We go into this year’s Six Nations with some clear objectives in terms of the improvements we are looking for in our performances. The players are crystal clear in terms of how we want to play and what we want our game to look like.

“They have trained exceptionally hard and every session we have improved our accuracy and execution. What we now need to find out is which players can put the best version of our game on the field come the big occasion.

ENGLAND (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 18 caps)
14. Heather Cowell (Harlequins, 2 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 96 caps)
12. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 4 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps, 22 caps)
10. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 10 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Bristol Bears, 48 caps)
1. Maud Muir (Wasps, 4 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 35 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 40 caps)
4. Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 1 cap)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 50 caps)
6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 50 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 79 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 130 caps)

Replacements:
16. Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 1 cap)
17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 64 caps)
18. Bryony Cleall (Wasps, 5 caps)
19. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins, 22 caps)
20. Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 45 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 1 cap)
22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 58 caps)
23. Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury, uncapped)

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