Emily Scarratt to lead much-changed England women against Italy


England have made 10 changes for their World Cup match against Italy in Dublin with Emily Scarratt leading the team.

Regular captain Sarah Hunter drops to the bench for the second pool game of the red Roses’ title defence, resulting in Scarratt’s elevation to skipper.

Natasha Hunt makes her first appearance of the tournament at scrum-half, forming a new half-back partnership with Amber Reed, while Olympian Amy Wilson-Hardy is given her World Cup debut on the wing.

Flanker Marlie Packer, lock Tamara Taylor, prop Justine Lucas, hooker Amy Cokayne and Alex Matthews are drafted in, while Rochelle Clark will win her 126th cap.

“We have options available to us in terms of selection and running different combinations,” head coach Simon Middleton said. “We want to take full advantage of the depth, talent and experience in the squad. Our aim is to continually build and improve on performance.

“The team have recovered well and have been working hard over the past two days to ensure we are fully prepared for the next challenge.”

England’s last clash with Italy was a 29-15 victory during the Six Nations earlier this season and they have faced them on two previous occasions.

“We are expecting a tough and physical encounter,” Middleton said. “Italy have caused us plenty of problems in the past and are an incredibly talented side.”

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