England: Sarah Hunter to break women's test appearance record in RWC quarter-final

England: Sarah Hunter to break women's test appearance record in RWC quarter-final

Head coach Simon Middleton has named his England Women matchday 23 to face Australia in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final (kick-off 1.30pm local time/1.30am UK time) at Waitakere Stadium, Auckland and live on ITV.


Sarah Hunter is set to earn her 138th cap to become England’s most-capped player and captains the side at number eight. It’s also a special day for Sarah Bern who reaches 50 caps.


Tatyana Heard retains her place in the starting XV at inside centre after being awarded the player of the match award in the Red Roses’ victory over South Africa last weekend with Zoe Harrison at fly half and vice-captain Emily Scarratt at outside centre.


Helena Rowland (full back), Lydia Thompson (right wing) and Abby Dow (left wing) form the back three.


Vickii Cornborough (loose-head prop), Amy Cokayne (hooker) and Sarah Bern (tight-head prop) make up the front row while Zoe Aldcroft and Abbie Ward are the lock pairing.


Alex Matthews and Marlie Packer are at blindside flanker and openside flanker respectively.


Bristol Bears’ Lark Davies is among the finishers after recovering from an ankle injury alongside Hannah Botterman, Maud Muir, Rosie Galligan, Poppy Cleall, Lucy Packer, Holly Aitchison and Ellie Kildunne.


Middleton said: “We are really looking forward to this week’s quarter-final against Australia. 


“England against Australia is always a huge occasion in any sport and we are looking forward to playing against a team we don’t face very often. Excitement has certainly built this week ahead of what is a massive game. 


“We know the importance of a fast start on Sunday. Australia have had some very fast starts in their pool games so it is important we better their effort and set the tempo and physicality levels.


“Off the back of three strong pool games, in which I think it’s fair to say every player has put their hand up, we have gone for a 23 we believe fits the bill for this particular game.


“It’s great to have Lark Davies back in the fold. She’s worked relentlessly along with our sports science department to turn a 12-week return to play into a seven-week one. In competition the ability to do this and return a player when the odds are stacked against them is invaluable and, as with Abby Dow, this once again shows the quality of the sport science support we have in the programme.


“Sunday is a special day for two Red Roses. 


“I’d like to give a special mention to Sarah Hunter who becomes the most-capped England player of all time across the men’s and women’s game. To earn 138 caps for your country is a remarkable achievement and deserves to be celebrated. The way she conducts herself in everything she does both on and off the field is admirable. Her people skills, ability to lead and communicate with people from all walks of life makes her stand out. She takes pride in everything she does and does it to the best of her ability. I think as a sports person the one thing you hope you can do when you look back is to be able to say to yourself ‘I couldn’t have given more, I’ve been the best I could be’ - Sarah is one of the very few who will be able to unequivocally do that - she is a unique person and captain.


“Sarah Bern also reaches 50 caps which is remarkable for someone so young. Sarah broke onto the scene at a young age and has become an integral part of our group from both a playing and leadership perspective. We’re delighted for her.”


England matchday squad to play Australia


15. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 20 caps)
14. Lydia Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors, 56 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 105 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 6 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps, 27 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 43 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Saracens, 55 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 72 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 67 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 49 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 35 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 58 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 53 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 86 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 137 caps)
16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 33 caps)
18. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 14 caps)
19. Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 8 caps)
20. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 60 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 7 caps)
22. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 12 caps)
23. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 28 caps)

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