Six Nations: Saracens quartet in England women’s squad

Saracens Lauren Cattell in action for England against Ireland during the 2016 Six Nations at Twicken

Saracens Lauren Cattell in action for England against Ireland during the 2016 Six Nations at Twickenham (pic David Davies/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

England Women head coach Simon Middleton has named four Saracens in his match-day 23 for their first Six Nations Test against Italy on Sunday.

Lauren Cattel last featured for England against USA in 2016 and is named at centre, with clubmates Poppy Cleall and Marlie Packer also in the starting XV, as Zoe Harrison is included on the bench. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies) and Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) will play nine and ten, while Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury) starts at full-back with Wasps FC Ladies duo Abigail Dow and Danielle Waterman on the wings.

Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies), Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries) – who makes her first international start for England – and Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury) make up the front row.

Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies) joins Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) who is set to earn her 112th cap for England, in the second row.

In the back row Red Roses captain Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning) starts at No.8 with Packer at open side and Cleall at blindside flanker.

Middleton said: “The squad are ready for what will be a physical test against Italy. We know they can be unpredictable in how they play and have a well organised set piece.

“We have prepared well, with all players training at a consistently high standard throughout camp.

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“With the depth and quality of players we have in the squad, we could have opted for a number of combinations with selection, but we have always said we would be selecting on form and have stayed true to that. We have full confidence this side can deliver a win on Sunday.”

England beat Italy 56-13 the last time they met in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup pool stages.

England: 15. Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury, 3 caps); 14. Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 2 caps); 13. Lauren Cattell (Saracens Women, 20 caps); 12. Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies, 75 caps); 11. Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies, 77 caps); 10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 94 caps); 9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 16 caps); 1. Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies, 132 caps); 2. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 6 caps); 3. Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury, 15 caps); 4. Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies, 24 caps); 5. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 111 caps); 6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 17 caps); 7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 54 caps); 8. Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 101 caps). Replacements: 16. Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies, 36 caps); 17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies, 34 caps); 18. Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies, 28 caps); 19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC, 42 caps); 20. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies, 38 caps); 21. Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies, 3 caps); 22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 3 caps); 23. Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning, uncapped)*

Fixtures: Italy v England, Sunday 4 February, KO 17:30 GMT, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix

England v Wales, Saturday 10 February, KO 12:15pm, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix, Twickenham Stoop

Scotland v England, Friday 23 February, KO 19:30, Live Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena via red button, Scotstoun, Glasgow

France v England, Saturday 10 March, KO 20:00 GMT, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

England v Ireland, Friday 16 March, KO 17:30, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix, Ricoh Arena, Coventr