Women's Six Nations: McLean captains strong England side

Katy Mclean in action for England Women against France in February

Katy Mclean will captain a powerful-looking England side in Saturday's Six Nations opener away to France.

Number eight Sarah Hunter will be joined in the back row by Margaret Alphonsi and Marlie Packer.

Lichfield centre Emily Scarratt and Worcester wing Katherine Merchant are back from injury after missing the autumn wins against France and Canada.

"Barring injuries this is the strongest team I could pick," said head coach Gary Street.

England had won seven straight titles, including six Grand Slams, going into last year's tournament but were missing all of their big names as they focused on their unsuccessful Sevens World Cup challenge.

Under-strength England could only finish third in the Six Nations and Street is determined to return to winning ways this year.

"I certainly think this fixture could set the tone for this season and I am sure France will be thinking exactly the same," he said.

"That is exactly what we need for this exciting but also very significant fixture as we play the host nation of this year's Rugby World Cup.

"We have made no secret of the fact that our goal is to win all our games this year and we are hoping Saturday's game is going to be the start of an exciting ride."

England: 15 Kay Wilson (Bristol); 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Rachael Burford (Thurrock), 11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps); 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Emily Braund (Lichfield), 6 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Laura Keates (Worcester), 19 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 20 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 21 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 22 Ceri Large (Worcester), 23 Amber Reed (Bristol).

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