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Hunter returns to lead England

England captain Sarah Hunter returns to England's starting team on Friday, having come off the bench impressively against France last weekend in the 10-6 win which handed them a Six Nations title. 

 The two teams are playing again this Friday evening in what is being dubbed a 'Six Nations Exhibition match' (kick-off 2000 BST, live on BBC iPlayer) at Villeneuve d'Ascq, Lille.

Standout Six Nations player Poppy Cleall is at blind-side flanker, having been forced off last weekend with a knock, while  Zoe Aldcroft moves to lock and there’s a first start this year for fellow lock Harriet Millar-Mills.

Vicky Fleetwood returns to the matchday squad at open-side flanker and in the backs, this weekend Zoe Harrison starts at fly half, with Helena Rowlands returning to the GB Sevens squad. Saracens’ Sarah McKenna at inside centre. 

Development players Merryn Doidge and Flo Robinson could earn their first senior caps as they are name on the bench alongside Hannah Botterman and Sarah Beckett who returns from an injury lay-off.

England are without Cath O’Donnell who was concussed ast weekend while Marlie Packer is ruled out after close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Packer is now isolating for 10 days as per government guidance.

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “We were absolutely delighted to secure the Six Nations title last Saturday.
"Attention quickly turned to Friday’s game. We know France will be hurting and we need to be quick out of the blocks.
“Playing France in France is always a huge challenge and one we’re really looking forward to.
“Although we are missing players, it’s testament to the strength and depth of our squad that we are still able to name a very strong team.
“We’re pleased to have this vital game time against quality opposition.
“It’s a great opportunity to finish this period on a high.”

England team to play France
15. Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 14 caps)
14. Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 18 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 95 caps)
12. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 35 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 17 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 29 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 42 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 59 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 56 caps)
3. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 23 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women, 23 caps)
5. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies 61 caps)
6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 46 caps)
7. Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 78 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 125 caps)


16. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 31 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 21 caps)
18. Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, 4 caps)
19. Abbie Ward (Harlequins Women, 47 caps)
20. Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)
21. Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 14 caps)
22. Flo Robinson (Exeter Chiefs Women, 0 caps)
23. Merryn Doidge (Exeter Chiefs Women, 0 caps)