Six Nations 2015: England Women make five changes for Italy

Katy McLean returns for World Champions after missing last week's 13-0 defeat to Wales as Nicky Ponsford rings the changes

England have made five changes to their starting XV for Sunday’s Women’s Six Nations match against Italy at The Stoop.

The world champions are boosted by the return of outside-half Katy Mclean from her exploits with the Sevens team as they look to bounce back from their shock 13-0 defeat to Wales in Swansea last weekend.

[Katy] will bring experience and solidity to the midfield which will allow us to control the game better than we did last week.

Nicky Ponsford

With Mclean starting at half-back, Worcester’s Ceri Large moves to inside-centre in place of club team-mate Megan Goddard, who drops to the bench.

Worcester scrum-half Bianca Blackburn starts her first game for England with La Toya Mason ruled out through injury.

“There are a number of changes to the starting line-up and that is because of a handful of players putting their hands up for selection after good starts from the bench against Wales or because of injuries,” said Ponsford.

“With Katy Mclean starting, she will bring experience and solidity to the midfield which will allow us to control the game better than we did last week.

“There was always an intention to bring Katy back for this game if she was fit as we have less strength in depth in this area because of current injuries.

“Although we were hugely disappointed with the defeat against Wales, there were positives too.

“We certainly know the areas we need to improve on, like being more clinical, and sticking to the game plan.

“We have also looked carefully at the breakdown and we will improve on that area.

“For a team who has had little opportunity to train together though, they worked hard and stayed connected and, while Wales won the game, it was a hard battle for both sides.

“We won’t be expecting anything different this weekend either.

“Italy always keep going for the full 80 minutes.

“They work very hard and they are a very physical side at the breakdown where they will try and disrupt our play.”

Up front, Saracens hooker Victoria Fleetwood starts in place of the injured Emma Croker.

Lock Abbie Scott is another to make her first start as she is preferred to Rowena Burnfield in the engine room.

Richmond’s Alex Matthews switches to blindside flanker in places of Hannah Field, who drops to the bench, with Waterloo’s Harriet Millar-Mills coming in at number eight.

Lichfield hooker Amy Cokayne, Darlington scrum-half Fiona Davidson and Saracens outside-half/centre Sarah McKenna are all named on the bench.

England: Kay Wilson (Thurrock); Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Brown (Bristol), Ceri Large (Worcester), Sydney Gregson (Bristol); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), Laura Keates (Worcester), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo).

Replacements: Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Victoria Cornborough (Richmond), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Hannah Field (Richmond); Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Megan Goddard (Worcester), Sarah McKenna (Saracens).

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