England Women team to play France
Head coach Simon Middleton has named his England Women team to play France at Twickenham Stadium this weekend.
The Red Roses take on Les Bleues in the second of a two-Test series on Saturday 21 November (KO 12 noon, live on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer).
On her 116th cap, Katy Daley-Mclean captains the side and becomes the standalone third most capped England player of all time.
Centre Lagi Tuima makes her first appearance since June 2019 while Claudia MacDonald takes her place on the wing.
Harriet-Millar Mills starts at blind-side flanker with Worcester Warriors forward Alex Matthews at openside.
Returning Gloucester-Hartpury prop Ellena Perry is among the finishers.
The final Test of the year comes too soon for Sarah Hunter who continues her return to play.
Jess Breach picked up an injury in last weekend’s victory in Grenoble so misses out.
Middleton said: “Playing three physical matches against top opposition back-to-back is very attritional and understandably can take its toll.
“When I asked Katy if she’d captain the side, I honestly didn’t know it would fall on such an occasion and knowing her as I have come to I’m pretty sure she didn’t either. What I do know is that even after winning the World Cup as captain in 2014, the smile on her face when I asked her to captain the side said everything you need to know about one of England’s greatest-ever players.
“Last week we had to see how we coped without the experience of Katy at fly half, this week is an opportunity to see how we fare without Emily Scarratt in the starting XV. Lagi was out for a long time, she’s now back playing for Harlequins and in training with us and we’re looking forward to seeing what she can do on the Twickenham stage.
“Harriet Millar-Mills thoroughly deserves her start. She’s been exceptional for us on and off the field.
“We’re delighted to welcome Ellena Perry back into the squad. She’s a player that has quality stamped all over her and someone we think very highly of.
“We’re absolutely gutted for Sarah [Hunter] but know we need to manage her return to play appropriately. There’s a bigger picture over the next 12 months, come September 2021 we’ll need our captain and that’s our strategy with her.
“Both Marlie Packer and Sarah Beckett have been standout performers for us over the last two games and we are comfortable we know what both of them can do.
“Helena Rowland picked up a knock against France and hasn’t trained fully this week but did more than enough last week to keep her place in the squad. That was one of the most composed and impactful first starts I’ve seen from an England player.
“All the players and staff can’t wait for Saturday in what we know will be another tough game. As a squad and staff group alike, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone within the RFU family who has made this game possible, to all the supporters who have wished us well over the last few weeks and to everyone for tuning in to watch.
“We set our stall out to work hard and never give anything but our very best over this series of games.
“We really want our performances to reflect the endeavour so many people have shown and are continuing to show to keep our game on the field at such a tough time.
“We wanted to put smiles on people’s faces and we’ll be giving everything we have on Saturday to try and keep people smiling.”
15. Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 10 caps)
14. Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 11 caps)
13. Lagi Tuima (Harlequins Women, 5 caps)
12. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 26 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 14 caps)
10. Katy Daley-Mclean (C; Sale Sharks Women, 115 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 39 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 55 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 27 caps)
3. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 19 caps)
4. Abbie Ward (VC; Harlequins Women, 44 caps
5. Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 2 caps)
6. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 57 caps)
7. Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 39 caps)
8. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 42 caps)
16. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 52 caps)
17. Ellena Perry (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 9 caps)
18. Laura Keates (Worcester Warriors, 61 caps)
19. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 19 caps)
20. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 73 caps)
21. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 54 caps)
22. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 2 caps)
23. Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning, 91 caps)
NPR: Heather Kerr (Wasps FC Ladies, 23 caps)