England have named their side to face the Black Ferns on Saturday, coach Simon Middleton making seven changes to the team which beat Canada on Wednesday.

In the backs, Rachael Burford comes in at inside centre after her fantastic display against Australia earlier in the series, and Katy McLean returns to the starting line-up at fly-half. Natasha Hunt replaces La Toya Mason at scrum-half, re-forming the half-back pairing which started the first few Six Nations games earlier in the year.

A back three of Kay Wilson, Danielle Waterman and Lydia Thompson will certainly keep the New Zealand defence on their toes, all three having performed well so far on tour.

In the pack, veteran Tamara Taylor returns to partner Abbie Scott at lock, while Sarah Bern joins Rocky Clarke and Amy Cokayne in the front row. Alex Matthews comes in at blindside flanker, replacing Harriet Millar-Mills, who moves to the bench.

“Coming into the final Test, it’s now about making sure we deliver and don’t leave anything on the field. It’s our last big game and opportunity to put in a good performance before we head back to England and focus on final preparations for the Women’s Rugby World Cup and we want to make it count.” said head coach Simon Middleton.

The Black Ferns will undoubtedly be an extremely tough opponent, but it will be a great challenge for the Red Roses. They have a wealth of experience in their side, including World Cup winners, and are on an eight-game winning streak with a Grand Slam under their belts already this year. In short, they should be full of confidence going into this game.

And they have some world class players – the likes of Emily Scarratt, Danielle Waterman, Marlie Packer, Sarah Hunter and Tamara Taylor are some of the best players in the world – and some who have really shone on this tour – Rachael Burford, Lydia Thompson and Abbie Scott to name a few – so they will certainly be a match for this New Zealand team.

However, the Black Ferns are not the number 1 side in the world for nothing. They are very talented and their ball skills are second-to-none. In scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge they have one of the most talented, electric players in the game, and the Red Roses will have to be very sharp around the ruck to stop her sniping runs. On the wing, Portia Woodman, a Sevens star, is a dangerous runner and will need to be well marked.

The last time the two sides met the Black Ferns came out on top, but the Red Roses know that they are playing some great rugby at the moment and have what it takes to beat them. Whatever happens tomorrow, this game is sure to be a spectacle.

You can watch the game live on World Rugby’s Facebook page – KO 5.15am BST, 16.15 NZ time – the curtain-raiser to the Maori All Blacks v British & Irish Lions game.

Red Roses team to play New Zealand (Saturday 17th June @ 4.15pm local time, 5.15am BST, Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua)

15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 69 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 33 caps)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 68 caps)
12 Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls, 66 caps)
11 Kay Wilson (Richmond, 44 caps)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 85 caps)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 36 caps)

1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 123 caps)
2 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 27 caps)
3 Sarah Bern (Bristol, 10 caps)
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 104 caps)
5 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 16 caps)
6 Alex Matthews (Richmond, 31 caps)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol, 46 caps)
8 Sarah Hunter (c) (Bristol, 92 caps).

Replacements:

16 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 61 caps)
17 Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls, 25 caps)
18 Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 21 caps)
19 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 45 caps)
20 Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 31 caps)
21 La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 65 caps)
22 Amber Reed (Bristol, 38 caps)
23 Emily Scott (Saracans, 22 caps).

Advertisements