Four uncapped players will make their England debuts against Spain
Worcester’s Lydia Thompson, Bristol’s Sally Tuson and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks’ Ruth Laybourn will form a new look backs line-up for England, while Bristol’s Kate Newton will join an experienced front-row comprising of Rochelle Clark and Emma Croker who share 93 caps between them.
Worcester’s Danielle Waterman will start at fullback, her first game since the victorious autumn international series against world champions New Zealand, whilst Ceri Large and Georgina Rozario are the half backs.
In the forwards, Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter wears the captaincy armband and she is joined in the pack by fellow Six Nations winners Emily Braund, Tamara Taylor, Marlie Packer and Harriet Millar Mills.
On the bench Fiona Davidson (Richmond) and Lauren Cattell (Chesham) are also set to make their England debuts.
Graham Smith, England’s Head Coach for this tournament, said: “Despite this being a relatively new look England side, training has gone well and the squad have come together really well. I have been impressed with the squad’s approach to training and their discipline and they are working together really well. There will obviously be some challenges for the new caps on Saturday and that is where our experienced players will be vital.”
England’s opener against Spain is the first of three games in this tournament as England look to defend their European crown. They will also take on Italy on Tuesday May 12 and France on May 19.
“This is a demanding schedule but we are used to playing back-to-back games,” added Smith. “We have undoubtedly got a tough opener against Spain, with Spain pushing us all the way in the final of the European Trophy last season. We only won that game 5-3 with a pushover try in the dying minutes.
“Spain are traditionally a powerful forward dominated side and we know we will have to defend well against them. That game was a huge learning curve for our England A side 12 months ago and I am sure this match will be no different for a lot of our new players.”
England Women’s team v Spain
15. Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 13. Sally Tuson (Bristol), 12.Kim Oliver (Bristol), 11. Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 10. Ceri Large (Worcester), 9.Georgina Rozario (Lichfield), 1. Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2.Emma Croker (Richmond), 3.Kate Newton (Bristol), 4. Emily Braund (Lichfield), 5.Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6.Sarah Hunter (Captain) (Lichfield), 7.Marlie Packer (Bristol), 8.Harriet Millar Mills (Lichfield). Replacements: 16. Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17. Laura Keates (Worcester), 18 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 20.Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 21. Fiona Davidson (Richmond), 22. Lauren Cattell (Chesham).
England Women’s European Cup Schedule
Spain v England, May 12, KO 430pm BST
Italy v England, May 15, KO 5pm BST
France v England, May 19, KO 630pm