England eager to display ‘crystal clear’ mindset in Six Nations opener at Scotland

Simon Middleton’s side will be captained by Sarah Hunter while Emily Scarratt makes a comeback from a broken leg for the Red Roses

Paul Eddison
Thursday 24 March 2022 12:45
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<p>Sarah Hunter gets tackled during the Autumn International match against Canada</p>

Sarah Hunter gets tackled during the Autumn International match against Canada

Sarah Hunter will lead England in their Women’s Six Nations opener away to Scotland as Emily Scarratt makes her comeback in the midfield.

Hunter starts at No8 in the clash in Edinburgh, packing down in a back row alongside Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall, and will lead the side once more, having done so in two of the four wins in the autumn.

It is a much-changed side from the team that saw off the USA 89-0 in England’s last game, with Scarratt back from a broken leg as she starts at outside centre.

She starts alongside Holly Aitchison in midfield, with Ellie Kildunne joining Abby Dow and Heather Cowell on the wings.

Leanne Infante and Helena Rowland make up the half-back pairing, while up front Maud Muir gets the nod at loosehead alongside Lark Davies and Sarah Bern.

Rosie Galligan makes her international return after three years out in the second row, starting alongside Abbie Ward.

And on the bench there could be a first cap for outside back Emma Sing after she was included among the replacements by Simon Middleton.

The coach said: “We’re really looking forward to this weekend’s opening game. We’ve had a good start to the week training at Bisham Abbey and are excited to be in Edinburgh to fine-tune our preparations.

“We’ve named a strong side and are looking forward to seeing how the group fare. We have great strength in depth, the whole squad have trained well and it’s important we give players opportunities and at the same time look at a couple of new combinations.

“We go into this year’s Six Nations with some clear objectives in terms of the improvements we are looking for in our performances. The players are crystal clear in terms of how we want to play and what we want our game to look like.

“They have trained exceptionally hard and every session we have improved our accuracy and execution. What we now need to find out is which players can put the best version of our game on the field come the big occasion.

“Playing Scotland in Scotland is one such occasion, we’re excited to take to the field at the DAM Health Stadium this Saturday.”

Maintaining consistency and discipline will be key for Scotland, believes head coach Bryan Easson.

Scotland are significant underdogs for Saturday’s clash but did rack up an impressive 59-3 win against Colombia in February to seal their place at October’s World Cup.

Easson wants his squad to continue that level of performance and is hopeful the Scots can spring a surprise on home soil this weekend.

He said: “I think we’ve been very clear from the get-go that we want consistency from the performance, to make sure that we have consistency from there.

“Where we’re at, we’ve had some good 20 minutes, we’ve had some good 40 minutes. What we’d like to see is a concerted effort of consistency.

“I think the performance we put in against Colombia was probably more professional than we’ve put in before, sticking to our systems, having the discipline to stick to our systems as well.

“We know what to expect from England so it’s having the discipline around our defence and attack and our game management.

“We’ve not really talked about outcome, we’ve talked about processes and hopefully the outcome takes care of itself.”

The Women’s Six Nations is more accessible than ever before. To find out how you can watch the Women’s Championship, click here

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