Katy Mclean returns for Six Nations clash against Italy

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England Women have made seven changes to the starting line-up, for this Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Italy at the Twickenham Stoop, kick off 2pm.

England, who opened their Six Nations campaign with a disappointing 13-0 defeat to Wales on Sunday, welcome back world cup winning fly-half Katy Mclean to the starting line-up with Ceri Large moving to inside-centre. Mclean, who missed the Six Nations opener as she was playing for England Sevens in the World Series, has been named as vice-captain with Tamara Taylor staying on as skipper.

Worcester scrum-half Bianca Blackburn will start her first game for England against Italy, with La Toya Mason ruled out through injury, as will lock Abbie Scott who is given the nod ahead of Rowena Burnfield.

World Cup winner Victoria Fleetwood will also start with Emma Croker unavailable through injury, which opens the door for Lichfield hooker Amy Cokayne to make her England debut if she is called off the bench.

In the backrow, Richmond’s Alex Matthews moves to blind-side flanker with Harriet Millar-Mills starting at No. 8, while on the bench Fiona Davidson and Sarah McKenna are also called up.

Interim Head Coach Nicola Ponsford said: “There are a number of changes to the starting line-up and that is because of a handful of players putting their hands up for selection after good starts from the bench against Wales or because of injuries.

“With Katy Mclean starting, she will bring experience and solidity to the midfield which will allow us to control the game better than we did last week. There was always an intention to bring Katy back for this game if she was fit as we have less strength in depth in this area because of current injuries.

“Although we were hugely disappointed with the defeat against Wales, there were positives too. We certainly know the areas we need to improve on, like being more clinical, and sticking to the game plan. We have also looked carefully at the breakdown and we will improve on that area. For a team who has had little opportunity to train together though, they worked hard and stayed connected and while Wales won the game, it was a hard battle for both sides.”

“We won’t be expecting anything different this weekend either. Italy always keep going for the full 80 minutes. They work very hard and they are a very physical side at the breakdown where they will try and disrupt our play.”

Tickets for England’s game against Italy are still available from Harlequins, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for Under 16s.


15        Kay Wilson (Thurrock)

14        Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

13        Abigail Brown (Bristol)

12        Ceri  Large (Worcester)

11        Sydney  Gregson (Bristol)

10        Katy Mclean (VC)  (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

9          Bianca Blackburn (Worcester)

1          Rochelle Clark (Worcester)

2          Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens)

3          Laura  Keates (Worcester)

4          Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C)

5          Abbie  Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

6          Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)

7          Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)

8          Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo)


16        * Amy  Cokayne (Lichfield)

17        Victoria Cornborough (Richmond)

18        Justine Lucas (Lichfield)

19        Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)

20        Hannah Field   (Richmond)

21        Fiona  Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

22        Megan Goddard (Worcester)

23        Sarah McKenna (Saracens)

*denotes new cap

Remaining Six Nations fixtures:

Sunday, February 15, England v Italy, KO 2pm, the Twickenham Stoop, live on

Friday, February 27, Ireland v England, KO 7.30pm, Asbourne RFC, live stream by IRFU

Friday, March 13, England v Scotland, KO 7.35pm, the Northen Echo Arena, Darlington, live on Sky Sports.

Saturday, March 21, England v France, KO 7.20pm, Twickenham Stadium, live on the BBC Red Button.