Five Saracens Women in Red Roses line-up for France clash
Saracens players will make up a third of England Women’s starting XV for their Women’s Six Nations opener against France (Sunday 2 February).
Poppy Cleall starts at second row and she is joined by Hannah Botterman and Vicky Fleetwood in the forward pack.
England Women Head Coach Simon Middleton had this to say about Cleall’s selection:
“Poppy Cleall is not only extremely talented but an incredibly versatile player and we have no issues moving her into the second row. That sort of versatility is an asset to our group.”
Zoe Harrison partners Loughborough Lightning’s Emily Scarratt at centre while Sarah McKenna will run out at fullback.
England arrived in France yesterday and take on Les Bleues at Stade du Hameau, Pau (KO 1230 GMT, Sky One and Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports YouTube).
The two teams met in back-to-back matches during November’s autumn internationals, with the Red Roses coming out on top in Clermont [10-20] and on home soil [17-15], where Lydia Thompson’s last-gasp try sealed victory at Exeter’s Sandy Park.
Middleton said: “We are all looking forward to another meeting with France.
“France are an intelligent side with an excellent team and coaching set-up.
“We are all fully aware of the challenge in front of us this weekend, the French will be hurting following the two results in November, particularly from Exeter where they were exceptional.
“However, one of the things we have been working on as a team is our composure under pressure, how to close games out when we are winning and to hold our nerve and win games from behind at the death.
“We did it twice in the summer and we did it again in November. As a team that gives us great confidence in our ability to win under pressure.
“When you play France away, it’s imperative you take the game to them and don’t sit back. You need to impose your game on them or they will run you all over the field. We don’t intend to let them do that come Sunday lunchtime.”
Red Roses matchday squad
15. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 28 caps)
14. Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 9 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC, Loughborough Lightning, 85 caps)
12. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 20 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 10 caps)
10. Katy Daley-MacLean (Loughborough Lightning, 110 caps)
9. Mo Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 50 caps)
1. Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 17 caps)
2. Amy Cockayne (Harlequins Women/RAF, 46 caps)
3. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 12 caps)
4. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 36 caps)
5. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 16 caps)
6. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 13 caps)
7. Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 72 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C, Loughborough Lightning, 119 caps)
16. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 22 caps)
17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 49 caps)
18. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women, 31 caps)
19. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 51 caps)
20. Amelia Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 0 caps)
21. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 34 caps)
22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women, 53 caps)
23. Emily Scott (Harlequins Women, 35 caps)
Non-playing reserve: Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 22 caps)