Source: Loughborough Lightning

Keates set for Loughborough Lightning debut against Sale Sharks

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Former Red Roses international Laura Keates is in line for her Loughborough Lightning debut after being named in the matchday squad to face Sale Sharks this weekend.

The 2014 Rugby World Cup winner joined Lightning last month to restart her career following injury and the sad demise of her former club, Worcester Warriors.

The tighthead prop has been named among the replacements for the Allianz Cup fifth-place play-off second leg on Saturday (kick-off: 2.30pm) at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. Lightning take a ten-point aggregate lead into the game having won the first leg at Heywood Road 22-12 a fortnight ago.

“Laura has more than 60 caps for the Red Roses so she arrives with a tremendous amount of experience,” said Lightning head coach, Nathan Smith. “I am excited to see her get out there on the pitch and make her Lightning debut.”

Lightning’s matchday squad features 21 English Qualified Players, with the only exceptions being Canadian international lock Abby Duguid and Swedish replacement hooker Maja Meuller.

Five of Lightning’s six England Under-20s players who featured against France last weekend are involved as Amelia Williams, Lucy Calladine and Catherine Wells pack down in a youthful starting front row, while Lia Green and Carmela Morrall are selected at fly-half and inside centre respectively.

Five of the Loughborough University side that was narrowly defeated in the BUCS National Championship final last week all start, as hooker Kendall Waudby switches to the back row, Sally Williams operates from openside flanker while the trio of Bo Westcombe-Evans, Ellen Scantlebury and Georgina Tasker form the back three.

More participants from that StoneX Stadium cup final loss feature among the replacements; Isla Curphey, Lucy Finch, Lucy Weaver and Keevy Fitzpatrick – who is also set to make her Lightning debut.

“Remarkably, Keevy has gone from BUCS 2 to Lightning in the same season,” added Smith. “She is yet another example of the pathway we have at Loughborough Lightning and Loughborough University that is working so well.”

Red Roses international Cath O’Donnell starts in the second row and fellow capped England forward Daisy Hibbert-Jones captains from No.8.

Meg Davey, who started at fly-half in the first leg victory a fortnight ago, switches back to her preferred position of scrum-half and Lucia Linn remains at outside centre, while recent England U20 call-up Evelyn Clarke and experienced Lightning back Emma Hardy complete the bench.

Lightning remain without their England and Scotland internationals ahead of the final round of Guinness Women’s Six Nations games this weekend, as well as four players who are participating in the Pacific Four Series for both USA and Canada.

Smith said: “The girls who play against Sale, I want them to make my life really difficult in terms of when selection comes around and the internationals come back in.

“I want it to be very hard for the internationals to get back into the team. I think the way we have trained this week has shown that the Lightning team wants to do that and make it hard for them. I want to see that continue on Saturday.”

Allianz Cup fifth-place play-off, second leg
Saturday 27 April, 2024
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 2.30pm

15 Georgina Tasker (vice captain)
14 Ellen Scantlebury
13 Lucia Linn
12 Carmela Morrall
11 Bo Westcombe-Evans
10 Lia Green
9 Megan Davey

1 Amelia Williams
2 Lucy Calladine
3 Catherine Wells
4 Abby Duguid
5 Catherine O’Donnell
6 Kendall Waudby
7 Sally Williams
8 Daisy Hibbert-Jones (captain)

16 Maja Meuller
17 Isla Curphey
18 Laura Keates
19 Keevy Fitzpatrick
20 Lucy Finch
21 Lucy Weaver
22 Emma Hardy
23 Evelyn Clarke

With thanks to Loughborough Lightning

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