England Women's captain Catherine Spencer says she's got full confidence in her team of youngsters who'll kick-off England's RBS 6 Nations campaign against Italy at London Welsh RFC on Saturday, kick-off 130pm.
England Women’s captain Catherine Spencer says she’s got full confidence in her team of youngsters who’ll kick-off England’s RBS 6 Nations campaign against Italy at London Welsh RFC on Saturday, kick-off 130pm.
The Bristol No. 8 leads a side which includes seven young players who only made their England debuts last year, but nearly all of them then went on to play a part in helping England win the Six Nations, the European Championships and the Nations Cup.
“With the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place in March the coaches are having to manage selection throughout this year’s Six Nations carefully,” said Spencer, who will run out for her 41st cap on Saturday.
“This means we are missing some familiar faces and experienced players in the starting line-up, but I am hugely confident in this squad. Every player in the 22 now has experience of international rugby and that is testament to the strength and depth of talent that we have in the England Elite Squad.
“Having said that, at the other end of the scale we have also got some experienced players coming back into the fold, such as Kim Oliver and Vicky Massarella. “
England last played Italy in the RBS 6 Nations last season and ran out convincing 76-6 winners, so will England be expecting another comfortable Six Nations opener on Saturday?
Spencer added: “We did beat Italy convincingly in Rome last year, but we have to put that victory out of our minds when we face them on Saturday. Of course we must go into the game with confidence but we must also recognise that on their day Italy can be a very tough team to beat, as was the case in 2007.”
England are the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions, and this season they hope to become the first nation to record an unprecedented fourth back-to-back grand slam.
“As the reigning champs and favourites, there’s huge expectation on us to repeat the grand slam victories of the past,” added Spencer. “However, we’ve proved that we thrive on and relish this pressure. I’d be lying if I said that the Grand Slam is not in my mind but at the moment we have to think of the bigger picture and that is being fully focussed on our first game.”
1 Rochelle Clark Blaydon
2 Amy Garnett Saracens
3 Sophie Hemming Bristol
4 Natalie Binstead Wasps
5 Joanna McGilchrist Wasps
6 Rebecca Essex Richmond
7 Lois Moulding Lichfield
8 Catherine Spencer (C) Bristol
9 Amy Turner Richmond
10 Katy McLean (VC) Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
11 Fiona Pocock Richmond
12 Kimberley Oliver Bristol
13 Emily Scarratt Lichfield
14 Francesca Matthews Richmond
15 Victoria Massarella Saracens
16 Samantha Reeve Worcester
17 Rosemarie Crowley Lichfield
18 Gemma Sharples Worcester
19 Karen Jones Richmond
20 Georgina Rozario Plymouth Albion
21 Christina Lee Bristol
22 Charlotte Barras Saracens
Head Coach Gary Street
Assistant Coach Graham Smith
England Women RBS 6 Nations Fixtures:
Feb 7th England v Italy 13.30 London Welsh RFC
Feb 14th Wales v England 13.00 Taffs Wells RFC, Cardiff
Feb 27th Ireland v England 19.30 St. Mary’s RFC, Dublin
March 15th England v France 13.30 London Welsh RFC
March 21st England v Scotland 13.30 London Welsh RFC