The Red Roses kick off their International Series in New Zealand tomorrow against the Wallaroos in Wellington.
The Six Nations champions have named what could be described as an experimental line-up, with regulars Emily Scarratt, Sarah Hunter, Danielle Waterman and Marlie Packer omitted from the starting team.
Fly-half Katy McLean captains the side, and she will be hoping to make a good contribution on her return to the team after being suspended for the final Six Nations games. Emily Scott, who replaced her at fly-half during the tournament, is named at full-back, while in the centres Megan Jones is set to win only her third cap.
In the forwards, Vicky Fleetwood starts at hooker, while Player of the Year Tamara Taylor is joined in the second row by Abbie Scott, making her return from injury. Harriet Millar-Mills moves from lock to blindside flanker, and Alex Matthews replaces Hunter at No. 8.
The Aussies have also named an experimental side – 11 of their squad are making their debuts, while their most experienced player, captain Ashleigh Hewson, has only made twelve test appearances. Of course, with no annual competition in the southern hemisphere, the Australians get limited test match exposure.
However, they’ve got a good ball carrier in No. 8 Victoria Latu, and coach Paul Verrell hopes to put the Red Roses under pressure at the line-out: “We’ve set them some structure and shape that we want to play, we have changed some lineouts that we also think will put some pressure back on England.”
The Red Roses should get their series off to a winning start as they have a lot more experience than the Aussies, but they could still be surprised if their opponents play more unstructured, free-flowing rugby.
In fly-half Katy McLean, the Red Roses have got a very good tactical kicker and distributor, and the forward pack is full of strong runners like Millar-Mills, Matthews and Fleetwood. The set piece will be a key feature of England’s attack – the driving maul was an extremely effective weapon during the Six Nations and against a relatively smaller and less experienced forward pack, will no doubt be used in this match.
This match should be a good test for the newer players in the Red Roses’ squad, and a win will help build confidence ahead of their matches against Canada and New Zealand in the next couple of weeks.
The match is available to watch live on World Rugby’s Facebook page (KO 12.30pm local, 1.30am BST, 10.30am AEST)
Red Roses team to play Australia (Friday 9th June @ 12.30pm local time, 1.30am BST, Porirua Park, Wellington)
15 Emily Scott (Saracens, 21 caps)
14 Kay Wilson (Richmond, 42 caps)
13 Megan Jones (Bristol, 2 caps)
12 Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls, 65 caps)
11 Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 12 caps)
10 Katy Mclean (C) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 83 caps)
9 Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls, 9 caps)
1 Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls, 23 caps)
2 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 59 caps)
3 Sarah Bern (Bristol, 8 caps)
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 103 caps)
5 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 14 caps)
6 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 43 caps)
7 Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 29 caps)
8 Alex Matthews (Richmond, 29 caps)
16 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 25 caps)
17 Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 19 caps)
18 Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 7 caps)
19 Emily Braund (Lichfield, 24 caps)
20 Sarah Hunter (Bristol, 90 caps)
21 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 35 caps)
22 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 66 caps)
23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 31 caps)