France v England: Women’s Six Nations champions make nine changes


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Venue: Stade Lille-Metropole Dates: Friday, 30 April Kick-off: 20:00 BST
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England head coach Simon Middleton makes nine changes to his Women’s Six Nations-winning side, with captain Sarah Hunter returning to the starting XV for Friday’s match with France.

Zoe Harrison will start at 10 in Lille, after last week’s starter Helena Rowland rejoined GB Sevens.

Hunter returns at eight, pushing Poppy Cleall to blind-side flanker.

England set up the extra Test against France to give the side more game time after only playing three matches in a reduced Six Nations format.

“We know France will be hurting and we need to be quick out of the blocks,” Middleton said.

“Playing France in France is always a huge challenge and one we’re really looking forward to.”

Flanker Marlie Packer is isolating after close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, while lock Cath O’Donnell is unavailable after sustaining a concussion.

Harriet Millar-Mills will get her first start of the year in the second row alongside last week’s player of the match Zoe Aldcroft, while Vicky Fleetwood replaces Packer in the back row.

Ellie Kildunne is at full-back in place of Sarah McKenna, who starts at inside centre, while Amy Cokayne replaces Lark Davies at hooker.

On the bench, Exeter backs Flo Robinson and Merryn Doidge could make their England debuts, while back row Sarah Beckett is poised to make her return from injury.

“Although we are missing players, it’s testament to the strength and depth of our squad that we are still able to name a very strong team,” Middleton added.

“We’re pleased to have this vital game time against quality opposition.”

England team to face France

England: Kildunne; Breach, Scarratt, McKenna, Dow; Harrison, Riley; Cornborough, Cokayne, Brown, Aldcroft, Millar-Mills, P Cleall, Fleetwood, Hunter (capt).

Replacements: Davies, Botterman, B Cleall, Ward, Beckett, MacDonald, Robinson, Doidge.

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