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Natasha Hunt among big names returning to England squad for Women’s Six Nations

Simon Middleton has named his squad for his final tournament in charge, which begins on 25 March

Sarah Rendell
Thursday 02 March 2023 13:06 GMT
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Natasha Hunt is back in the England squad after missing out on the World Cup
Natasha Hunt is back in the England squad after missing out on the World Cup (PA Archive)

Gloucester-Hartpury scrum-half Natasha Hunt has returned to the England squad for the Women’s Six Nations.

Hunt was left out of the World Cup squad last September and said she was “heartbroken” by the omission. Simon Middleton’s team went on to lose to hosts New Zealand in the final to end their world -record 30-match winning run.

However, Hunt’s fantastic form in the Premier 15s this season has earned her a way back into the international set-up. Among her impressive statistics are 19 try assists in just 12 games.

There are also returns for back row Sarah Beckett, prop Bryony Cleall and centre Amber Reed, who all also missed out on a World Cup spot.

Elsewhere in the 42-player training squad, Holly Aitchison is named and could start as fly-half after Zoe Harrison was ruled out with an ACL injury.

Sarah Hunter will co-captain the team alongside Marlie Packer with regular vice-captain Emily Scarratt out with injury. Lock Abbie Ward is also not included in the squad after announcing her pregnancy at the start of the year. Scarratt and Ward will be present throughout the tournament in the squad though to support with coaching.

Emily Scarratt is injured and won’t play in the Six Nations (PA Wire)

There are other big names who are unavailable through injury or personal reasons with Hannah Botterman, Vicky Fleetwood, Vickii Cornborough and Laura Keates all missing out.

Middleton, who is entering his final tournament as head coach with the RFU set to name his replacement in the coming weeks, has also named nine uncapped players including Saracens’ May Campbell, Sale Sharks’ Elizabeth Duffy and Exeter Chiefs’ Nancy McGillivray.

England begin their title defence against Scotland on 25 March.

Middleton said: “There are a number of new faces in this squad and while we are missing experienced players, this is a great opportunity for these younger players and we’re looking forward to working with them.

“There is always a regeneration period after any World Cup and this one is no different. Those selected have performed very well in the Allianz Premier 15s and deserve their opportunity.

“Sarah Hunter and Marlie Packer will co-captain the squad. Sarah has made it clear she will not be involved in the 2025 World Cup as a player, so it’s essential we look to continue to grow our leadership quality and depth. Marlie is already an integral part of our leadership group, so this is a natural progression for her to co-captain the side and continue to develop her leadership skills.

England squad for Women’s Six Nations

Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 38 caps), Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury, 25 caps), Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 52 caps), May Campbell (Saracens, uncapped), Bryony Cleall (Harlequins, 7 caps), Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 63 caps), Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, uncapped), Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 70 caps), Liz Crake (Wasps, uncapped), Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 44 caps), Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 9 caps), Detysha Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 5 caps), Sarah Hunter (CC; Loughborough Lightning, 140 caps), Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 8 caps), Poppy Leitch (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps), Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 56 caps), Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 17 caps), Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 24 caps), Marlie Packer (CC; Saracens, 89 caps), Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 7 caps), Emily Robinson (Harlequins, uncapped), Hannah Sims (Harlequins, uncapped), Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 5 caps).

Backs: Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 15 caps), Jess Breach (Saracens, 24 caps), Abby Dow (Harlequins, 30 caps), Elizabeth Duffy (Sale Sharks, uncapped), Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 9 caps), Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 60 caps), Leanne Infante (Saracens, 57 caps), Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 31 caps), Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 24 caps), Nancy McGillivray (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped), Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 43 caps), Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 9 caps), Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 62 caps), Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 22 caps), Ellie Rugman (Gloucester-Hartpury, uncapped), Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury, 2 caps), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 58 caps), Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 12 caps), Ella Wyrwas (Saracens, uncapped).

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