Zoe Aldcroft to captain England against Scotland as John Mitchell explains Emily Scarratt omission

Regular skipper Marlie Packer is named on the bench with fellow centurion Scarratt absent entirely from Mitchell’s squad

Harry Latham-Coyle
Wednesday 10 April 2024 15:00 BST
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Zoe Aldcroft will captain England in Edinburgh
Zoe Aldcroft will captain England in Edinburgh (Getty Images)

Zoe Aldcroft will captain England against Scotland in the Women’s Six Nations with regular Red Roses skipper Marlie Packer named on the bench for the round three clash in Edinburgh.

Aldcroft shifts to the blindside with John Mitchell opting for three locks in his starting side, with Sadia Kabeya filling the seven shirt. Amy Cokayne returns from injury at hooker with Lark Atkin-Davies having been progressing through the return to play protocols after a concussion.

Mitchell sticks with the backline that impressed in the win over Wales before the fallow week, with no place in the 23 for experienced centre Emily Scarratt.

Scarratt, England’s record points scorer, made her comeback from neck surgery against Italy in round one but has been unable to train fully with a lower leg problem.

And with competition for places fierce, Mitchell has insisted that Scarratt needs to be fully fit to be considered.

“There’s no such thing as rotation,” Mitchell said after naming his 23. “This squad is selected for Scotland. The previous two selections were based on the short turnaround which we had to manage, both athlete and team. This squad is purely selected for Scotland.

Emily Scarratt made her return from a long-term injury lay-off against Italy
Emily Scarratt made her return from a long-term injury lay-off against Italy (Getty Images)

“[Emily Scarratt] is progressing nicely. She still hasn’t been able to do a full week. She’s come out of yesterday’s session well so that’s a really good sign. Tomorrow’s session will be a lot faster and if she gets through tomorrow, that presents a good case for her in the next two weeks.

“She’s training at 12. She still trains at 13 as well because she’s got good experience at 13. But the most important message is that she needs to be 100 percent fit.. The girls understand that they have to be 100 per cent because there’s so much competition within the group. Anyone is capable of replacing anyone, as far as I see it.”

Tatyana Heard and Meg Jones combine in the centres again with Sydney Gregson, back in the England fold after a nine-year absence, covering on the bench.

Poppy Cleall had been due to make her first appearance of the campaign from the bench but suffered a laceration to her knee in training this week, granting Maddie Feaunati a spot among the replacements.

A sellout crowd has been announced for the game at Hive Stadium in the Scottish capital, with the hosts hoping to build on their opening win over Wales and a strong performance against France that ended in a narrow defeat.

John Mitchell has named a strong side for the round three fixture
John Mitchell has named a strong side for the round three fixture (Getty Images)

“They’ve had quite a lot of momentum coming into this game,” Aldcroft said of the England’s opponents. “They had a good run at WXV and into the Six Nations. We know quite a few of their players, we play week-in, week-out with them in the league.

“We’ve got an idea of how they play and we’ve got our eyes on a couple of players we are going to target. It should be a good match-up.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity. There are so many dominant leaders in teh group and it is great to be at the head of that, directing on the pitch.”

England XV to face Scotland in Edinburgh (2.15pm BST, Saturday 13 April)

15 Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 40 caps)

14 Abby Dow (Trailfinders Women, 42 caps)

13 Megan Jones (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)

12 Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 19 caps)

11 Jess Breach (Saracens, 35 caps)

10 Holly Aitchison (Bristol Bears, 27 caps)

9 Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 69 caps)

1 Hannah Botterman (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)

2 Amy Cokayne (Leicester Tigers, 72 caps)

3 Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 27 caps)

4 Rosie Galligan (Saracens, 15 caps)

5 Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 63 caps)

6 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 50 caps) - captain

7 Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 15 caps)

8 Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 63 caps)

Replacements:

16 Connie Powell (Harlequins, 16 caps)

17 Mackenzie Carson (Gloucester-Hartpury, 12 caps)

18 Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, 5 caps)

19 Maddie Feaunati (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)

20 Marlie Packer (Saracens, 101 caps)

21 Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 18 caps)

22 Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 48 caps)

23 Sydney Gregson (Saracens, 4 caps)

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