Red Roses matchday squad for World Cup Finals
Head coach Simon Middleton has named his matchday squad for England’s Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand at Eden Park (Saturday 12 November, kick-off 7.30pm local time/6.30am UK time).
Sarah Hunter captains the side at number eight with outside centre Emily Scarratt vice-captain.
Ellie Kildunne (full back), Lydia Thompson (right wing) and Abby Dow (left wing) are the back three.
Saracens duo Zoe Harrison (fly half) and Holly Aitchison (inside centre) form the 10-12 axis with club team-mate Leanne Infante at scrum half.
There are also starts for Alex Matthews (blind-side flanker) and Marlie Packer (open-side flanker) as well as Abbie Ward (lock) and Zoe Aldcroft (lock), who was player of the match in the team’s semi-final victory over Canada last weekend.
Vickii Cornborough (loose-head prop), Amy Cokayne (hooker) and Sarah Bern (tight-head prop) make up the front row.
Loughborough Lightning’s Cath O’Donnell returns to the matchday 23 and is among the finishers alongside Lark Davies, Maud Muir, Shaunagh Brown, Poppy Cleall, Sadia Kabeya, Claudia MacDonald and Tatyana Heard.
Meanwhile, Hannah Botterman and Helena Rowland miss the game due to injury. Prop Botterman suffered a knee injury in training last week while back Rowland sustained a foot injury in last Saturday’s semi-final.
Middleton said: “I could not be any prouder of the squad, how we have conducted ourselves and how we have performed. We set ourselves an objective to leave this country a better squad than when we arrived and regardless of what happens on Saturday we will do that.
“The way the squad and staff have come together both on and off the field has been fantastic to be a part of and will be a huge part of this team’s legacy after the World Cup.
“You are always striving to create something special in team sport and we have done that with this group of Red Roses. We know in our heart of hearts that this will more than likely be the last time this group all come together, but what they have created and achieved will live on for a long time.
“With success comes scrutiny and the inevitable pressure that brings with it. This squad has stood up to all of that and more and that is testimony to their ability, resilience and unwavering belief in each other. When things get tough, this team knows how to get going, that is why we are relishing Saturday and all that it will bring.
“There can be no bigger challenge in sport than to play the world champions in their own backyard in front of a sell-out crowd - 99.9% of which will be forming part of the opposition.
“Great teams don’t fear those challenges, they embrace them, and meet them head on, that’s what we intend to do.”
England team to play New Zealand
15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 30 caps)
14. Lydia Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors, 57 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 107 caps)
12. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 14 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps, 29 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 45 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Saracens, 57 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 74 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 69 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 51 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 37 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 60 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 55 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 88 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 139 caps)
16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 43 caps)
17. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 16 caps)
18. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins, 29 caps)
19. Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 23 caps)
20. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 62 caps)
21. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 7 caps)
22. Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 23 caps)
23. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 8 caps)