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Rugby - 28. January 2014.

England Women primed for Six Nations opener


England had lifted the trophy for seven straight years before the 2013 instalment and McLean, who starts at fly-half, has been charged with the task of winning it back.

Gary Street's side take on France in their tournament opener on Saturday at the Stade des Alpes, Genoble, and the head coach has named vice-captain Sarah Hunter at No.8, alongside experienced flanker Maggie Alphonsi.

Street is hoping to kick the competition off with a bang, as he looks to regain the Six Nations in style - with a Grand Slam.

"We have made no secret of the fact that our goal is to win all our games this year," he said. "And we are hoping Saturday's game is going to be the start of an exciting ride.

"There, however, can be no room for complacency if we want to achieve this and the entire squad knows this.

"I certainly think this fixture could set the tone for this season and I am sure France will be thinking exactly the same.
"We have had some excellent preparation for this fixture. Coming into camp a whole week before the game has not happened before and we have found it invaluable.

"There is a real buzz in the squad and the players can't wait to get started."

Marlie Packer joins Hunter and Alphonsi in the back row, with Natasha Hunt marshalling the pack at scrum-half.

Elsewhere, Katherine Merchant and Hunt's Lichfield teammate Emily Scarratt each return from injury, after they missed England's autumn internationals, and slot into the back line.


15. Kay Wilson (Bristol)
14. Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13. Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
12. Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
11. Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
10. Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
9. Natasha Hunt (Lichield)

1. Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2. Emma Croker (Richmond)
3. Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
4. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
5. Emily Braund (Lichfield)
6. Marlie Packer (Wasps)
7. Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
8. Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)

16. Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
17. Claire Purdy (Wasps)
18. Laura Keates (Worcester)
19. Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
20. Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
21. La Toya Mason (Wasps)
22. Ceri Large (Worcester)
23. Amber Reed (Bristol)
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photos Janos Schmidt 

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