Rugby World Cup: Fleetwood back on England bench
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Saracens hooker returns from injury to face Americans
Saracens Vicky Fleetwood has been named on the bench for England’s World Cup Pool B decider against the United States in Dublin on Thursday.
Fleetwood, who has won 62 caps, has overcome a recent minor injury to be included in the squad, after her team-mates secured wins over Spain (56-5) and Italy (56-13) in their first two matches.
The USA have also beaten Italy (24-12) and Spain (43-0) to set up a showdown at Billings Park (2.30pm).
Sarah Hunter returns to captain England at number eight, with Vickii Cornborough and Sarah Bern back in the front row with 126-cap Rochelle Clark and Justine Lucas on the bench.
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Abbiee Scott starts at lock alongside 106-cap Tamara Taylor, as Alex Matthews moves to blindside flanker.
Kay Wilson returns to the wing, while Amy Wilson Hardy switches to the right and Amber Reed moves to inside centre.
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Katy McLean starts at fly-half, with scrum-half Leanne Riley taking a place on the bench alongside hooker Fleetwood and centre Rachel Burford.
Head coach Simon Middleton said: “This is a winner-takes-all game in terms of topping the pool and will require a full 23 squad effort to get the job done.
“Regardless of whether players have been selected to start or will come on as finishers, everyone has equal weight in the team, fully understands what their role is and what they need to deliver come match day.
“We know playing against USA will be tough, they play a very physical game and have some dangerous players on the ball, but we have prepared well and the squad are in a good place, not only physically but mentally.
“We have confidence in the entire squad and it’s now about going out and making suure we put in a full 80-minute performance.”
The two nations have met in four previous World Cups, with England losing the 1991 final 19-6 in Cardiff.
They gained revenge in 1994 with a 38-23 final win and came out on top in group games in the 2006 and 2010 competitions.
England: Cornborough, Cokayne, Bern, Scott, Taylor, Matthews, Packer, Hunter, Hunt, McLean, Wilson, Reed, Scarratt, Wilson Hardy, Waterman. Replacements: Fleetwood, Clark, Lucas, Cleall, Millar-Mills, Riley, Burford, Jones.