16/08/14 by Paul Bolton
England Head Coach Gary Street has named his team for Sunday’s Women’s Rugby World Cup final against Canada, kick off 545pm BST at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris, making just two changes.
Street has recalled Lichfield scrum-half Natasha Hunt and Wasps flanker Marlie Packer to the starting line-up.
Hunt, who replaces La Toya Mason, started against Samoa and Canada and has scored two tries in this tournament. Packer, who gets the nod ahead of Alexandra Matthews and Heather Fisher, leads England’s top try tally, alongside wing Kay Wilson, with four tries in two games against Spain and Ireland.
England prop Rochelle Clark, meanwhile, is set to win her 95th cap and also feature in her third consecutive Rugby World Cup final. Fullback Danielle Waterman, who is also set for a third WRWC final appearance, will win her 60th cap.
Street, whose side defeated Ireland 40-7 to reach Sunday’s final, said: “It was immensely tough to select this team. We have 26 players fit and everyone is in a really good place freshness wise so it was a very tough call. We have had 27 players part of this World Cup experience and with one game to go it is always going to be very tough on those not selected.
“Marlie has been a great impact player this tournament. She is fresh having only played 20 minutes over the last two games so we are expecting her to add a lot of energy into our backrow. Natasha has also had a fantastic tournament and is also fresh from the semi-final having only just come on in the second half. She adds a real pace to our game which I think is going to be hugely important.”
Canada booked their place in the WRWC final after a thrilling 18-16 defeat of hosts France in Wednesday’s semi-finals. The final now sees England take on Canada for the second time in just eight days after the two teams tied 13-13 in the last of the pool matches.
Street added: “Playing Canada in the pool stages, although it was very tough, was as it turned out, very useful. They really brought their A game to that match and we didn’t perform as we wanted to. However, the errors that we made then we have learned from and we showed that in our performance against Ireland.
“Rugby World Cup finals are obviously very special but we are genuinely just thinking about playing Canada as just another game. We have to. In 2010 we felt a real weight of expectation going into the final and we have learned a lot from that experience.”
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
12 Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
11 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) C
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
6 Marlie Packer (Wasps)
7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) VC
16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Laura Keates (Worcester)
18 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
19 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
20 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
21 Ceri Large (Worcester)
22 Claire Allan (Richmond)