England head coach Simon Middleton maintains his side need to focus on their own game ahead of their Women’s Six Nations opener against France.
The Red Roses travel to the Stade de Hameau and despite having a number of injuries, Middleton is still able to name an experienced side.
The Grand Slam champions are hoping to continue their rich vein of form and beat Les Bleues twice in the Autumn internationals, but Middleton knows it will be another close contest.
“We are all looking forward to another meeting with France,” Middleton said. “As you saw in the autumn and in all of our most recent contests, games between the two sides are always tight, cagey affairs and we don’t expect this one to be any different.
“France are an intelligent side with an excellent team and coaching set-up. It’s important that we focus on our game and it’s a huge opportunity for a number of our starting players to show what they can do.”
Poppy Cleall starts in the second row while Harriet Millar-Mills is among the replacements after being sidelined with injury for 22-months.
Vickii Cornborough is set to receive her 50th cap while Amelia Harper is also on the bench and could make her senior debut.
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Middleton is boosted by the emerging talent in the side and hopes what he’s seeing in terms of leadership in the camps will be shown on the field in the Championship.
“We have injuries to experienced players but also boast real strength-in-depth and have quality and versatility throughout the side,” he added.
“Poppy Cleall is not only extremely talented but an incredibly versatile player and we have no issues moving her into the second row. That sort of versatility is an asset to our group.
“We’re seeing an ever-evolving leadership group developing really well in our camps and we’re hoping to see this further translate onto the field in the forthcoming Six Nations matches.”
England XV: 15. Sarah McKenna, 14. Abby Dow, 13. Emily Scarratt, 12. Zoe Harrison, 11. Jess Breach, 10. Katy Daley-McLean, 9. Natasha Hunt, 1. Hannah Botterman, 2. Amy Cokayne, 3. Shaunagh Brown, 4. Poppy Cleall, 5. Zoe Aldcroft, 6. Sarah Beckett, 7. Vicky Fleetwood, 8. Sarah Hunter
Replacements: 16. Lark Davies, 17. Vickii Cornborough, 18. Sarah Bern, 19. Harriet Millar-Mills, 20. Amelia Harper, 21. Leanne Riley, 22. Amber Reed, 23. Emily Scott