Helena Rowland is also part of the British sevens team preparing for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
|Location: Castle Park, Doncaster Date: Saturday, 3. April Diploma: 15:00 TSB|
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Helena Rowland will start in the women’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at 10am on Saturday, while Zoe Harrison is out in the 23rd minute after being fouled by coronavirus protocols. Finish up.
Players must file a health report daily, and Harrison lost his spot for failing to do so three times.
Wasps fly-half Meg Jones will fill the void on the bench.
Centre Emily Scarratt is captain while full-time captain Sarah Hunter continues her return from injury.
Hunter played for Loughborough Lightning last weekend but has not yet recovered from his hamstring strain for international duty.
Bryony Cleall, the twin sister of starting number eight Poppy, will earn her second cap on the narrow headrest when the 2020 English Grand Slam champions begin their campaign at Doncaster Castle Park.
Cleall is joined by loosehead prop Vicky Cornborough and hooker Lark Davies, while second row Kat O’Donnell will make her first England appearance since 2019 after a lengthy hamstring injury.
Central defender Sarah McKenna, winger Lydia Thompson and Zoe Oldcroft return to the bench after missing the autumn internationals.
Winger Abby Doe will miss the game for personal reasons.
England beat Scotland 53-0 in the 2020 Six Nations, but head coach Simon Middleton expects the match to be tougher this time around.
Rachel Malcolm said they weren’t afraid to play with us.
They shouldn’t be, because they are a very good team. It will be a great game. They walk the walls before they come out of the locker room, and we’ll be just the same.
Harrison stumbles into 10-shirt race
Zoe Harrison was due to start for the England national team but was dropped after breaching coronavirus protocols.
With the retirement of Katie Daly-McLean in December, all eyes are on Rowland who has her first chance to show she is capable of replacing the world champion.
The battle for the starting shirt should be a simple affair between the 21-year-old England sevens man and the 22-year-old Saracens fly-half, but the latter’s absence at Covid gives Jones the chance to come off the bench.
With the World Cup postponed until 2022, Middleton has 17 months to develop his new playmaker before England compete for the title in New Zealand.
Rowland has that goal in mind, but Jones is balancing his ambitions for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with the British sevens team.
Middleton described Harrison’s coronavirus offense as a minor one, adding: It wasn’t malicious, it was just unconscious on Zoë’s part.
It’s frustrating for Zoe because she played really well and now she’s starting to blossom, but she gets it, it’s in her hands.
Monday morning she will be back with us at camp and she is already looking forward to Italy.
New format will not distract England
The 2021 Women’s Six Nations Tournament, which has been moved from February to March, will be played in a shortened format.
The teams will be divided into two pools and will play two group games to determine the places for the final league weekend.
The temporary abolition of the round robin means England cannot win a third consecutive Grand Slam, but Middleton insists it has not changed the team’s focus.
We know the Six Nations title is on the line and whatever form we choose, we will focus on what we have learned over the past six months, he explained.
If we do well, we hope to get results and win another title.
England vs Scotland
England: McKenna; Thompson, Scarratt (captain), Tuima, Breach; Rowland, Riley; Cornborough, Davis, B. Clell, Ward, O’Donnell, Oldcroft, Packer, P. Clell.
Substitutes : Cockayne, Harper, Brown, Millar-Mills, Fleetwood, McDonald, Jones, Kildann.
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