Recalls for Welwyn pair as England ring the changes for Italian job

England head coach Simon Middleton leads a team talk on the pitch

England head coach Simon Middleton leads a team talk on the pitch after the win over Scotland. - Credit: BRADLEY COLLYER/PA

Two former Welwyn Rugby Club juniors have been brought back into the squad as England shuffle the pack ahead of their game with Italy in the Women's Six Nations.

Hannah Botterman, who started her career at Datchworth, and Zoe Harrison are both on the bench having missed the 52-10 win over Scotland in round one.

Harpenden's Sarah McKenna is also among the replacements having played in the win at Caste Park, Doncaster.

In total head coach Simon Middleton has made eight changes to the starting 15 but another former Welwyn junior, Helena Rowland, continues in the 10 shirt.

Captain Sarah Hunter is the biggest name recall as she gets set to earn her 124th cap in her first international in 13 months following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Alex Matthews and Vicky Fleetwood both come in as flanker while Amy Cockayne and Shaunagh Brown are in the front row.

In the backs Wasps' trio Megan Jones, Ellie Kildunne and Abby Dow return at inside-centre, full-back and right wing respectively.

Middleton said: “I was really pleased with aspects of our game against Scotland and I thought we were outstanding for the majority of the first half.

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"The frustrating part was that we got ourselves into a position where we wanted to be in the game but then didn’t kick on.

"The ability to sustain a high level of performance for the majority, if not all of the game, is the thing we are working towards in training, so to put in a great 40 minutes and then not back that up in the second half was not what we wanted.

“We’ve had a good week and have looked to address the discipline issues such as the penalty count.

"In the past we have prided ourselves on our discipline but defensively we are looking to play more on the edge and you can’t do that without walking a fine line. We have to make sure we are at the right side of it
                                                                                                                           
“This game in Italy also gives us an opportunity to look at some other combinations and we’ve decided to rotate the squad.

"“The objective is to finish as strong as possible. Last week the finishers gave us a lift and allowed us to regain the momentum but we want to be on the front foot when they come on to allow them to focus on raising the bar as opposed to rescuing a situation.

"The biggest of games are generally decided in the latter stages so the depth of the squad and the impact of the finishers is likely to be the deciding factor.

"That’s their role, to get the job done in style and that’s what we will expect to see on Saturday."

Kick-off in Padova is at 2pm (BST) with the game live on BBC iPlayer.

England team to play Italy:

15. Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 12 caps)
14. Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 16 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 93 caps)
12. Megan Jones (Wasps FC Ladies, 11 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 15 caps)
10. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 41 caps)
 
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women 57 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 54 caps)
3. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 21 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 21 caps)
5. Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 16 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors Women, 40 caps)
7. Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 77 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 123 caps)

Substitutes:

16. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 29 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 20 caps)
18. Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, 2 caps)
19. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 59 caps)
20. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 44 caps)
21. Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 13 caps)
22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 27 caps)
23. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 33 caps)

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