England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made five changes to the squad that will take on Italy in the RBS 6 Nations championship on Saturday February 9th at the Stadio Tre Fontane in Rome, kick-off 230pm local time.
Street, whose side ran in an impressive nine tries in a dominating 55-0 victory against Wales in the curtain raiser game on Saturday, has given Clifton prop Sophie Hemming the nod to start, with Henley’s Rochelle Clark wearing the number 3 shirt. Blaydon’s Katy Storie will start the game on the bench.
Leos lock Sarah Beale will also start in the second-row with Jo McGilchrist moving to the bench, while Street has called up England A skipper Karen Jones to the starting line-up also. Jones moves into the backrow in place of Sarah Hunter who is rested for this game.
Richmond fly-half Alice Richardson will also start in place of Katy McLean who is named on the bench. The only other change to the 22 sees a call-up for Worcester hooker Samantha Dale who could make her England debut if she is called off the bench.
Street said about his defending RBS 6 Nations champions: “We have got such depth in this squad that I am really happy to be able to make these changes. It’s really important that we give as many players as possible game time whilst at the same time keeping our squad and our campaign fresh and exciting.
“We have got around 30 players who are capable of playing six nations rugby so it is only right that the likes of Sophie, Sarah, Sam, Karen and Alice are being given their chance to show what they can do.”
England last played Italy a year ago in the RBS 6 Nations and ran out 23-0 winners at Twickenham. Although the Azzuri failed to put any points on the board then they provided England with one of their toughest games of the championship and Street thinks there could be more of that to come this weekend.
He added: “We underperformed against Italy last year, probably because we didn’t really know what to expect as they were new to the championship. What we did learn about them though was that they have a very good pack and they are a hard working side that keep to their game plan. They certainly have some very good coaches on board and we will have to put in another solid performance to continue to be successful in our campaign.”
1 Sophie Hemming Clifton
2 Amy Garnett Saracens
3 Rochelle Clark Henley
4 Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
5 Sarah Beale Leos
6 Karen Jones Richmond
7 Margaret Alphonsi Saracens
8 Catherine Spencer (C) Worcester
9 Amy Turner Richmond
10 Alice Richardson Richmond
11 Danielle Waterman Clifton
12 Rachael Burford Saracens
13 Claire Allan Saracens
14 Michaela Staniford Wasps
15 Charlotte Barras Saracens
16 Samantha Dale Worcester
17 Katy Storie Blaydon
18 Joanna McGilchrist Wasps
19 Jane Leonard Wasps/Army
20 Katy McLean Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
21 Katherine Merchant Worcester
22 Victoria Massarella Saracens
Head Coach Gary Street
Assistant Coach Graham Smith
England RBS 6 Nations Fixtures
February 2nd England v Wales, London Irish RFC, Sunbury KO 230pm WON 55-0
February 9th Italy v England, Stadio Tre Fontane, Rome, KO 230pm local time
February 23rd France v England, Bergerac, nr Agen, KO 4pm local time
March 8th Scotland v England Meggetland Stadium, Edinburgh KO12pm
March 15th England v Ireland, London Irish RFC, Sunbury KO 445pm
– but the sailors praise the new boats