England centre Lagi Tuima

Lagi Tuima makes Red Roses return for second Test against France

England Women head coach Simon Middleton has named his side to face France at Twickenham as the two-Test autumn series concludes.

Off the back of their 33-10 win on the road in Grenoble last week, the Red Roses make six changes to their starting line-up for the return to home soil.

The match will mark Lagi Tuima’s comeback to the international fold more than one year on since her last appearance, with the Harlequins centre replacing stand-in Emily Scarratt who drops to the bench.

Katy Daley-Mclean takes over leadership duties from Scarratt on the occasion of her 116th cap, starting at fly-half in place of Helena Rowland.

An injury sustained by wing Jess Breach rules her out of contention, allowing Claudia MacDonald to start in the No.14 jersey.

England will hope to make a sweep of three victories over their northern hemisphere rivals in 2020, having opened their Grand Slam-winning campaign in the Six Nations with a 19-13 win in Pau back in February.

Sarah Hunter misses out as she continues to rehabilitate from injury, as Harriet Millar-Mills slots into the blindside flanker in place of Sarah Beckett.

Elsewhere in the pack, Lark Davies comes in for Amy Cokayne and teen lock Morwenna Talling replaces Marlie Packer as Poppy Cleall reverts to the back row with Alex Matthews.

Looking ahead to the match, Middleton said: “Playing three physical matches against top opposition back-to-back is very attritional and understandably can take its toll. 

“When I asked Katy if she’d captain the side, I honestly didn’t know it would fall on such an occasion and knowing her as I have come to I’m pretty sure she didn’t either. What I do know is that even after winning the World Cup as captain in 2014, the smile on her face when I asked her to captain the side said everything you need to know about one of England’s greatest-ever players.

“Last week we had to see how we coped without the experience of Katy at fly half, this week is an opportunity to see how we fare without Emily Scarratt in the starting XV. Lagi was out for a long time, she’s now back playing for Harlequins and in training with us and we’re looking forward to seeing what she can do on the Twickenham stage.

“Harriet Millar-Mills thoroughly deserves her start. She’s been exceptional for us on and off the field.

“We’re delighted to welcome Ellena Perry back into the squad. She’s a player that has quality stamped all over her and someone we think very highly of.

“We’re absolutely gutted for Sarah [Hunter] but know we need to manage her return to play appropriately. There’s a bigger picture over the next 12 months, come September 2021 we’ll need our captain and that’s our strategy with her.

“Both Marlie Packer and Sarah Beckett have been standout performers for us over the last two games and we are comfortable we know what both of them can do. 

“Helena Rowland picked up a knock against France and hasn’t trained fully this week but did more than enough last week to keep her place in the squad. That was one of the most composed and impactful first starts I’ve seen from an England player.

“All the players and staff can’t wait for Saturday in what we know will be another tough game. As a squad and staff group alike, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone within the RFU family who has made this game possible, to all the supporters who have wished us well over the last few weeks and to everyone for tuning in to watch.

“We set our stall out to work hard and never give anything but our very best over this series of games.

“We really want our performances to reflect the endeavour so many people have shown and are continuing to show to keep our game on the field at such a tough time.

“We wanted to put smiles on people’s faces and we’ll be giving everything we have on Saturday to try and keep people smiling.”

England Women team to play France at Twickenham in 2020 autumn series (Saturday, 12pm kick-off, BBC Two/BBC iPlayer)

England Women: 15 Ellie Kildunne, 14 Claudia MacDonald, 13 Lagi Tuima, 12 Zoe Harrison, 11 Abby Dow, 10 Katy Daley-Mclean, 9 Leanne Riley; 1 Vickii Cornborough, 2 Lark Davies, 3 Shaunaugh Brown, 4 Abbie Ward, 5 Morwenna Talling, 6 Harriet Millar-Mills, 7 Alex Matthews, 8 Poppy Cleall

Replacements: 16 Amy Cokayne, 17 Ellena Perry, 18 Laura Keates, 19 Sarah Beckett, 20 Marlier Packer, 21 Natasha Hunt, 22 Helena Rowland, 23 Emily Scarratt

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