- McLean returns to lead England in Twickenham Test
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Photo: Rugby Matters
England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made seven changes in his 23-woman squad for Saturday’s final Test against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium, kick off 5pm.
Street, whose side wrapped up the autumn series against the Black Ferns in style on Tuesday night with a 17-8 victory following Saturday’s 16-13 win, has made seven changes, and one positional change, for the England double-header showdown at England Rugby HQ.
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks fly-half Katy McLean returns to captain England with Alice Richardson moving to centre. Katherine Merchant, who scored a try in England’s opening series win, also returns on the wing.
In the pack Victoria Fleetwood and Laura Keates return to the front row at hooker and tight-head prop respectively while Richmond’s Rowena Burnfield is back in at lock. In the back row, powerhouse flankers Heather Fisher and Marlie Packer team up with vice-captain Sarah Hunter.
Street said: “This is certainly my strongest available starting line-up. We are going to give everything we have got for the final match. It is great to welcome back Heather Fisher and Marlie Packer, two effervescent flankers who have had their batteries recharged and are ready to go. With Fisher, Packer and Sarah Hunter we have a world-class backrow who will bring power, pace and energy to our game.
“In Alice Richardson and Jo Watmore we also have a new exciting midfield combination that I think will bring a lot of dynamics to our game, just like they have done for the England Sevens squad. And behind them, they have three of the best backs in the world in Emily Scarratt, Kat Merchant and Michaela Staniford.”
After last season’s 2-0 series victory, which saw England and the Black Ferns draw the final game 8-8, England will be looking to go one better and record another historic series victory this Saturday.
“Of course our target now is to take a 3-0 series win,” added Street, whose side have also won the Six Nations and the European Championship in the last 12 months. “And I am confident we can do that. The players are still feeling fresh and they have also got the motivation of playing at Twickenham on Saturday. It’s always a special atmosphere when we play there, and the support is fantastic. It makes the players feel very special.
“But by no means are we taking anything for granted. We know New Zealand will be hurting after these two defeats and they’ll be desperate to try and regain some pride by winning at Twickenham. We are prepared for that and we will meet them head on.”
The England v Black Ferns match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 1HD and there will also be live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live. Entry to the stadium is free after the conclusion of the men’s QBE International against the All Blacks.
England team to face New Zealand
15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
12 Alice Richardson (Richmond)
11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
1 Roz Crowley (Lichfield)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Tamara Taylor (Lichfield)
5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
6 Heather Fisher (Worcester)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) (VC)
16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
18 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
19 Emily Braund (Lichfield)
20 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
21 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
22 Amber Reed (Bristol)
23 Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
England Women Autumn International Series:
Nov 3, 2012 - England 23 France 13 - Esher RFC
Nov 23, 2012 - England 16 New Zealand 13 - Esher RFC
Nov 27, 2012 - England 17 New Zealand 8 - Aldershot Army Rugby
Dec 1, 2012 - England v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium - KO 5pm (Live on Sky Sports 1HD)