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England skipper eager to kick off Six Nations campaign

01 February 2012

  • England Women to play Scotland in Six Nations opener
  • England looking to defend their crown
England centre Rachael Burford in action during the victory over Ireland in 2011

Photo: RugbyMatters.net

Sunday February 5 sees England Women kick off their defence of their RBS 6 Nations crown and England skipper Katy McLean says she can’t wait to get started again.

England take on Scotland at Lasswade RFC on Sunday, 5pm kick off, and as defending Grand Slam champions gunning for a record breaking seventh consecutive crown, England are going into the tournament as favourites.

But McLean, who will start at fly-half on Sunday, is expecting this tournament to be tougher than ever with all their Six Nations rivals determined to knock England off their perch, especially after her side’s recent victory over world champions New Zealand.

“I am often asked how do we motivate ourselves for this tournament given we have won the Six Nations for the last six years, but I genuinely believe this is going to be our toughest Six Nations in a long time and that we are going to have to be at our best to retain our title, so to be honest it’s not difficult.

“We have got some big games coming up and France, only in November, defeated us twice in an uncapped and a full on international test match. There is no way they are going to want to hand us back a win, especially on their turf. We will also play Wales at Twickenham Stadium and matches between us are always fiercely competitive so I am sure they’ll be determined to put one over us on our stage.”

England Head Coach Gary Street has named a young looking side for Sunday’s game with eight players in the 22 set to taste Six Nations rugby for the first time. Uncapped lock Emily Braund is on the bench, while Lichfield’s Harriet Millar-Mills, Saracens’ Hannah Gallagher, Bristol’s Isabelle Noel-Smith and Worcester’s Ceri Large will be looking to build on their handful of international caps.

McLean added: “We have got some young players making their first ever Six Nations start and, I remember as a player, that that is a massive thing. As captain I hope I can give them the support they need but I also know that these players, although they may not have many caps, completely deserve their place in the 22 as they are definitely some of England’s best players of the moment.

“We also have experience too and I know as a squad we are in a good position. We have been lucky that we have played a lot of good competitive rugby coming into this campaign where as some of our opponents have not. Certainly beating the world champions has given this team a real boost and we hope to continue to raise the bar going into this championship.

“Scotland is unquestionably going to be a tough game. Last year we put a lot of points on them, but this one is on their turf, it’s late on a Sunday evening and I doubt the conditions are going to be particularly kind to us. We will have to go to Edinburgh and give it everything we’ve got. I can’t wait to get started again and I know my fellow team mates feel exactly the same.”