- Hunter calls for another match-winning performance
- England look to impress ahead of the RWC
Sarah Hunter, captain for England’s final Six Nations game against Italy on Sunday at the Stadio Giulio e Silvio Pagani in Rovato, says her side will be looking to put down another marker ahead of the Rugby World Cup in August as well as finish the Six Nations on a high.
England can only hope Ireland beat France on Friday night to keep alive their Six Nations championship ambitions, but Hunter says they are determined to execute another quality performance – especially as the game is England’s final match before the RWC in France.
“Whatever the result between France and Ireland, we will be focusing on putting in a strong team performance and one that we can be happy and proud of,” said Hunter, who takes over the captaincy from Katy Mclean.
“We need to play with control and intensity that suits the way we want to play. Italy are a difficult and competitive team to play against so we have to be more clinical than we were in our previous games and execute all the opportunities we create.
“We want to be better with every game we play and with this being our last game before the World Cup this is our final opportunity to see where we are as a team and what we need to work on before heading to France in the summer. A good performance can also give us momentum building into the World Cup both for our training camps and the competition itself.”
England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made 11 changes to the starting line-up, including four positional. Only wing Katherine Merchant, prop Rochelle Clark, lock Tamara Taylor and flanker Maggie Alphonsi retain their starting places and positions from Friday’s 35-3 win over Wales.
“Gary and Graham have created a squad that has strength and depth in every position so the changes that have been made will give people the opportunity to get some good game time ahead of the World Cup,” added Hunter, who herself moves from No.8 to flanker.
“The Six Nations is also a long competition so I think the changes will freshen things up a little. It’s also great to see players like Danielle Waterman come back after such a long time out with injuries.”
England team v Italy
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield) VC
12 Amber Reed (Bristol)
11 Natasha Brennan (Richmond)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, captain)
7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
8 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
16 Mercedes Foy (Thurrock)
17 Claire Purdy (Wasps)
18 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
19 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
20 Marlie Packer (Wasps)
21 Georgina Gulliver (Lichfield)
22 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
England’s Six Nations fixtures & results
Saturday, Feb 1: France 18 England 6, Stade des Alpes
Sunday, Feb 9: Scotland 0 England 63, Aberdeen Grammar, Aberdeen
Saturday, Feb 22: England 17 Ireland 10, Twickenham Stadium
Friday, March 7: England 35 Wales 3
Sunday, March 16: Italy v England, Stadio Giulio e Silvio Pagani, Rovato, kick-off 2pm GMT, live on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS6GCh3YQ10