Planet Rugby

Wholesale changes from England

12th March 2014 12:25

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Danielle Waterman

Starts: Danielle Waterman

England Women's head coach Gary Street has made a raft of changes ahead of Sunday's final Six Nations match of the season against Italy.

Street has made eleven alterations to the starting line-up, including four positional, for a match where the Triple Crown champions will be looking to secure their fourth win of the Six Nations.

An opening championship defeat to France has cost England dear as they now have to hope Ireland can defeat France on Friday to keep alive their hopes of reclaiming the Six Nations crown.

Only wing Katherine Merchant, prop Rochelle Clark, lock Tamara Taylor and flanker Maggie Alphonsi, who will win her 70th cap on Sunday, retain their starting places from Friday's 35-3 win over Wales. 24-year-old Emily Scarratt, player of the match against Ireland and Wales, moves from full-back to outside-centre to win her 50th cap with Amber Reed switching to inside centre, whilst Sarah Hunter moves to flanker and Rebecca Essex is named in the back-row at number eight.

With skipper Katy Mclean, who has started every game this season, on the bench, Ceri Large starts at fly-half and Hunter takes over the captaincy. Full-back Danielle Waterman, who has 54 caps and has competed in two Rugby World Cups, is also set to start her first XVs game in 16 months. Richmond wing Natasha Brennan will also make her first start for England after making her England debut coming off the bench against Wales and scoring.

On the bench Mercedes Foy, Claire Purdy, Georgina Gulliver and Lydia Thompson have all been called back into the squad ahead of England's final match before the World Cup.

"Having such depth of quality players in our squad does make it a challenge to keep consistency but as this is our last game before the RWC we have got to give players game time. We have not weakened the squad at all but given it a fresh boost before our last game of the Six Nations," said Street.

"It's great to have a fully fit Danielle Waterman back in the squad who I hope can add something different to the team, whilst Natasha Brennan very much impressed on her debut last week and it is vital we see more of her.

"Katy Mclean has been outstanding as captain and at fly-half this season but we have a very able back-up in Ceri Large at 10 who also needs to get some more game time under her belt."

England: 15 Danielle Waterman, 14 Katherine Merchant, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Amber Reed, 11 Natasha Brennan, 10 Ceri Large, 9 Natasha Hunt, 8 Rebecca Essex, 7 Margaret Alphonsi, 6 Sarah Hunter (capt), 5 Tamara Taylor, 4 Joanna McGilchrist, 3 Laura Keates, 2 Victoria Fleetwood, 1 Rochelle Clark.
Replacements: 16 Mercedes Foy, 17 Claire Purdy, 18 Sophie Hemming, 19 Hannah Gallagher, 20 Marlie Packer, 21 Georgina Gulliver, 22 Katy Mclean, 23 Lydia Thompson.

Date: Sunday, March 16
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Venue: Stadio Giulio e Silvio Pagani, Rovato
Referee: Marlize Jordaan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Barbara Guastini (Italy), Doranna De Carlini (Italy)
Assessor: Michel Lamoulie (France)

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