- Amber Reed set for England Women's debut
- Kat Merchant and Emily Scarratt return from Sevens success
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women’s Graham Smith has made eight changes, one positional, to the starting line-up that defeated Spain 61-0 on Saturday for Tuesday’s FIRA-AER European Cup clash against Italy, kick off 5pm, BST, in Rovereto, Italy.
Bristol’s Amber Reed is set to make her debut at centre, while Lichfield’s Fiona Fletcher, who is a late call-up to the squad after an injury to Becky Essex, could also make her England bow if she is called off the bench. Lauren Cattell, 18, will make her first start for England at fly half after coming off the bench against Spain and scoring a try on her debut.
Smith has shaken up the pack with a new-look front-row for this game, with Rosemarie Crowley, Vicky Fleetwood and Laura Keates all starting. Rowena Burnfield and Gemma Sharples will also start. Katherine Merchant and Emily Scarratt return to the England XVs set-up after victory in the IRB Challenge Cup Sevens at the Marriott London Sevens at the weekend.
Photo: RFU Archive
Graham Smith, who has stepped up to Head Coach for this tournament, said: “Given that the unity of this new looking side has gelled quicker than anticipated I am fully confident that we are capable of putting on a good performance against Italy.
“This will be a big game for Lauren Cattell starting at fly half and Amber Reed in the centre. Despite her young years, Lauren has taken everything in her stride and she certainly has the potential to be a very good player. Amber has also shown herself to be big and powerful and her running game and distribution are real positives. Teaming up with Sally Tuson in the centres I think they have the potential to be quite a combination.”
England head into Tuesday’s match on the back of an impressive 11-try victory over Spain in the opener. Italy are set to be much tougher opponents pushing France to a 22-19 victory at the weekend.
Smith added: “We won’t be underestimating Italy at all. They put on a really good performance against France and we know they will be tricky. They are a big, robust side with a good offload game and some attacking flair. We will certainly be looking to ensure that our scrum and line-out platforms work effectively to create some good ball for our backs, who have the pace to be very dangerous.”
England Women v Italy
15. Danielle Waterman (VC) (Worcester), 14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester) 13. Sally Tuson (Bristol), 12. Amber Reed (Bristol), 11. Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 10. Lauren Cattell (Chesham), 9. George Rozario (Lichfield), 1. Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 2. Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 3. Laura Keates (Worcester), 4. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Sarah Hunter (C), 7 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 8 Harriet Millar Mills (Lichfield).
Replacements: 16. Emma Croker (Richmond), 17.Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 18. Kate Newton (Bristol), 19.Emily Braund (Lichfield), 20 Fiona Fletcher, 21.Fiona Davidson (Richmond), 22 Kim Oliver (Bristol), 23 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 24 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 25 Ceri Large (Worcester).
England Women’s European Cup schedule
Spain v England: May 12, WON 61-0.
Italy v England: May 15, KO 5pm BST
France v England: May 19, KO 6.30pm BST