Women's Rugby World Cup: England make 12 changes for clash against Spain
Last Updated: 04/08/14 4:41pm
Marlie Packer: Flanker will get her first WRWC start in the pack
England Women’s head coach Gary Street has made 12 changes to the starting line-up, including one positional, for Tuesday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Spain in Marcoussis.
Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter will captain the side as Street chooses to rotate his 26-woman squad for the tournament which will see England contest five games in just 16 days. Hunter moves to flanker with Richmond’s Alexandra Matthews making her first start for England since July 2013 and her World Cup debut.
There is also a new front row with Claire Purdy, Victoria Fleetwood and Sophie Hemming starting whilst Rebecca Essex and Marlie Packer get their first World Cup starts in the pack.
In the backs, scrum-half La Toya Mason has been named as vice-captain and she teams up with Ceri Large at fly-half with Katy Mclean rested. Amber Reed and Claire Allan form a new centre partnership for this game.
England Head Coach Street, whose side defeated Samoa 65-3 in the tournament opener on Friday, said: “Because of the schedule of the World Cup it's key that we rotate our players. Having a game every four days is hugely physically and mentally demanding so our strategy is to rotate the squad and keep the players fresh.
“Rotating the squad means Sarah Hunter is captain for this game and she brings a wealth of knowledge to the role. This is a very different looking team to the squad that defeated Samoa but there are still 575 caps shared between our starting XVs so this is by no means an inexperienced team. We have got the depth so we are going to use it.
"Rotating the squad means Sarah Hunter is captain for this game and she brings a wealth of knowledge to the role."
“It is exciting to bring back Alex Matthews who has been out for a while with injury. She has been outstanding in our training camps over the last couple of months. Alex is a dynamic ball carrier and gives us another huge physical presence in the backrow.”
England boast a 9-0 winning record over Spain and the two sides last met in the 2012 European Cup and England won that contest 61-0. Spain, meanwhile, opened their Rugby World Cup account with a 31-5 defeat to Canada.
Street added: “Apart from a shaky 20 minutes against Canada in their opening World Cup game, I thought they played some excellent rugby. They have some strong ball carrying forwards and some quick athletic backs from the Sevens programme. After one defeat they are going to be fighting all out for a spot in the knockout stages.”
England: 15 D Waterman, 14 K Wilson, 13 C Allan, 12 A Reed, 11 L Thompson, 10 C Large, 9 LT Mason; 1 C Purdy, 2 V Fleetwood, 3 S Hemming, 4 J McGilchrist, 5 R Essex, 6 S Hunter (capt), 7 M Packer, 8 A Matthews
Replacements: 16 E Croker, 17 L Keates, 18 T Taylor, 19 H Fisher, 20 N Hunt, 21 R Burford, 22 E Scarratt
Watch England take on Spain from FFR Headquarters from 2.45pm this Tuesday on Sky Sports 1