Women's Six Nations: England recall Maggie Alphonsi

Maggie Alphonsi
Maggie Alphonsi

England women have made seven changes for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland, including a recall for experienced flanker Maggie Alphonsi.

Head coach Gary Street named 30-year-old Alphonsi, who has won 67 caps, in the back row where she will partner Hannah Gallagher and Sarah Hunter.

Rochelle Clark, Emma Croker, Sophie Hemming, Katherine Merchant, Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson are also included.

"The quality of our bench shows the squad depth we have," Street said.

Ireland are the defending Six Nations champions although England head into the game full of confidence after they thrashed Scotland 63-0 in Aberdeen in their last match on 9 February.

However, Street acknowledges the Irish will provide a much stronger test for his players.

"This is obviously a big game. With our defeat last season to Ireland, playing at Twickenham and knowing we must win, this is a big match," he said.

"Ireland have a strong all-round game with some powerful forwards and pace in their backs but we've learnt a lot from our 18-6 defeat to France (on 1 February) and we are feeling ready for this."

Ireland Women Head Coach Philip Doyle has made two changes to the side that earned a hard-fought victory against Wales in round two of the Six Nations championship.

Ashleigh Baxter comes in on the wing for Hannah Casey and Gillian Bourke replaces Stacey Lea Kennedy at hooker.

Both Casey and Kennedy will start from the bench, with the only other change to the match day 23 seeing Laura Guest come into the replacements in place of Paula Fitzpatrick.

Niamh Briggs and Larissa Muldoon, who came into the side after the opening round, are retained at full-back and scrum-half respectively.

England: 15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield); 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Amber Reed (Bristol), 12 Rachel Burford (Thurrock), 11 Kay Wilson (Bristol); 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Joanne McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) VC.

Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Laura Keates (Worcester), 18 Sasha Acheson (Bristol), 19 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 20 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 21 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 22 Ceri Large (Worcester), 23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester).

Ireland: 15 Niamh Briggs (Munster); 14 Ashleigh Baxter (Ulster), 13 Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), 12 Jenny Murphy (Leinster), 11 Alison Miller (Connacht); 10 Nora Stapleton (Leinster), 9 Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile); 1 Fiona Coghlan (Leinster), 2 Gillian Bourke (Munster), 3 Ailis Egan (Leinster); 4 Sophie Spence (Leinster), 5 Marie-Louise Reilly (Leinster); 6 Siobhan Fleming (Munster), 7 Claire Molloy (Connacht), 8 Heather O'Brien (Munster).

Replacements: 16 Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Ulster), 17 Fiona Hayes (Munster), 18 Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exiles), 19 Laura Guest (Munster), 20 Amy Davis (Ulster), 21 Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exiles) 22 Grace Davitt (Ulster), 23 Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exiles)

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