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England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has rung the changes for Saturday’s penultimate Six Nations clash against Italy, kick off 1pm, at Esher RFC.
Street has made seven changes and two positional changes to the starting line-up that was defeated 20-30 by France last month at Twickenham Stadium.
The Head Coach has rotated his front row with Roz Crowley, Victoria Fleetwood and Laura Keates all starting. In the second row Emily Braund, who last featured in England’s opening Six Nations win over Scotland, is back in alongside Jo McGilchrist, who moves in from the backrow. Skipper Sarah Hunter also moves to flanker, giving Lichfield’s Harriet Millar-Mills a start at No. 8.
There are only two changes in the backline with Worcester’s Lydia Thompson coming in on the wing in place of Kay Wilson and Georgina Gulliver starting at scrum half. Gulliver has also been named as vice captain. On the bench Richmond’s Fiona Davidson could be set to start her first ever Six Nations game while Bristol prop Kate Newton also returns.
Street said: “The main changes to this match-day squad come in the pack. We always planned on rotating our front row throughout the tournament and that is exactly what we’ve been doing.
“It is also nice to welcome back Emily Braund and Lydia to the starting line-up. Lydia picked up an injury against Scotland and I am now looking forward to seeing what damage she can do out wide while Emily impressed against Scotland last time out and deserves another opportunity to show what she can do.
“Jo McGilchrist is a world-class second rower and with her moving into her natural position, this gives us the opportunity to mix up the backrow and give Harriet Millar-Mills a start at No. 8.”
Following defeats to Ireland and France, England can no longer defend their Six Nations title but Street is eager that his side – winners of the Six Nations for the past seven years – finish their last two games on a high.
Street added: “Two weeks ago we were defeated by a really good French side who I think have the potential to win the World Cup next year, especially as the tournament is in France. We also didn’t perform to our usual standards but we have got to put that behind us and move on. We have picked ourselves up and I am hopeful that our young players will have learned from that defeat, and the one against Ireland. We have already had some really encouraging feedback so we are feeling positive.
“Italy, however, cannot be taken for granted. They have, after all, beaten France in the opening game of the Six Nations. They are a physical and determined side and we’ll definitely have to be on top of our game to beat them.”
England team to face Italy
15 Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
12 Amber Reed (Bristol)
11 Sally Tuson (Bristol)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester)
9 Georgina Gulliver (Lichfield) (VC)
1 Roz Crowley (Lichfield
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
5 Emily Braund (Lichfield)
6 Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
7 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
8 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Kate Newton (Bristol)
18 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
19 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
20 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
21 Fiona Davidson (Richmond)
22 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
23 Emily Scott (Thurrock)
England’s Six Nations Fixtures:
*March 9, 2013 - England v Italy, KO 1pm, Esher RFC. Live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive. Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk
March 17, 2013 - Wales v England - KO 2.30pm, Aberavon RFC