- Mclean back to captain England at fly half
- Matthews deployed at blindside flanker for semi-final
England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has recalled captain and fly half Katy Mclean in one of six changes to his side for Wednesday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final clash against Ireland at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris (kick-off 5pm BST).
Mclean links up with scrum half La Toya Mason, who is handed the number nine jersey. The only other change to the backline sees Kay Wilson starting on the wing.
In the pack, tighthead prop Sophie Hemming is set to win her 70th cap, while Lichfield’s Victoria Fleetwood starts at hooker and Joanna McGilchrist returns to the second row to team up with Tamara Taylor. Vice-captain Sarah Hunter, Margaret Alphonsi and Alexandra Matthews – deployed at blindside flanker – make up an exciting backrow partnership.
Street, whose side are bidding for a fourth successive final spot, said: “This is a hugely experienced side. It is a settled side too, with the core of this team playing three out of the four games in this World Cup.
Photo: Getty Images
“Ceri Large has done a great job at fly-half for this tournament but it is great to welcome back Katy who is feeling fresh and ready to go.
“Alex Matthews has also been hugely impressive. She brings great power and explosiveness and although she is a young player she has grasped every opportunity we have given her over the World Cup. La Toya, meanwhile, is a very experienced scrum-half and featured in the last World Cup final.”
England and Ireland last met in this year’s Six Nations with England taking a 17-10 victory in front of a 15,000-strong crowd at Twickenham.
However, Ireland, come into the last-four tie having recorded the shock win of the tournament to date, seeing off reigning World Champions New Zealand 17-14 in the pool rounds.
Street added: “Ireland are a side we know well and they are one of the most improved outfits in international rugby. They play a similar game to us, so it will be a big battle that will come down to who performs best on the day.
“The result in our last match at Twickenham was close, but we were disappointed we let a couple of scores go. Certainly in this semi-final we have got to make sure we take all our chances if we are to make it through to the final.”
England side to face Ireland
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
12 Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
11 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain)
9 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, vice-captain)
16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Laura Keates (Worcester)
18 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
19 Marlie Packer (Wasps)
20 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
21 Ceri Large (Worcester)
22 Claire Allan (Richmond)
England’s WRWC results
Friday, August 1
England 65 Samoa 3
Tuesday, August 5
England 45 Spain 5
Saturday, August 9
England 13 Canada 13