27 October 2020

England captain Sarah Hunter ruled out of Italy Six Nations Grand Slam decider as Marlie Packer and Abbie Ward return

England rugby head coach Simon Middleton has announced his squad for the Six Nations Grand Slam decider against Italy this weekend and captain Sarah Hunter will not be involved.

Hunter has suffered a hamstring injury and will not be able to see out the Red Roses’ 2020 campaign and so vice-captain Emily Scarratt will lead the team on Sunday.

Two players who have returned to the squad after a year out with injuries are Marlie Packer and Abbie Ward.

And after switching back to 15s from sevens rugby Ellie Kildunne, Alex Matthews and Helena Rowland have been named following stunning performances so far this season.

Middleton said: “We’re naturally disappointed Sarah Hunter is ruled out but we feel it’s best she sits out of this one in order to recover properly. We have a big year ahead and must play the long game.

“The players who have returned from sevens have done exceptionally well in the opening rounds of the Allianz Premier 15s and we’re looking forward to seeing how Ellie, Alex and Helena fare this week.

“Having Abbie Ward and Marlie Packer back is a huge plus for us. They’re vitally experienced and talented players. It’s great to be preparing for a match again and we can’t wait to take to the field.”

England have already won the 2020 Six Nations as no other team can now beat them on points but their clash on Sunday will decide whether they will achieve back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

Full squad

Forwards: Sarah Beckett, Sarah Bern, Shaunagh Brown, Poppy Cleall, Amy Cokayne, Vickii Cornborough, Lark Davies, Detysha Harper, Alex Matthews, Harriet Millar-Mills, Marlie Packer, Morwenna Talling, Abbie Ward

Backs: Jess Breach, Katy Daley-Mclean, Abby Dow, Zoe Harrison, Natasha Hunt, Ellie Kildunne, Claudia MacDonald, Helena Rowland, Amber Reed, Emily Scarratt

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