BRISTOL Bears’ 2017 World Cup finalist Sarah Bern is back in the England Women’s team for their opening Six Nations game against Ireland on Friday (5pm).

Bern will start at tight-head prop, with Gloucester-Hartpury’s Tatyana Heard lining up at inside centre in the absence of Lagi Tumia, alongside her team-mate Kelly Smith on the wing.

Another Gloucester-Hartpury player Natasha Hunt is named on the bench for the match at Energia Park, Donnybrook.

Sarah Hunter, with 108 international caps to her name, captains the side from number eight, and is joined by fellow 2014 World Cup winners Katy Daley-Mclean (102 caps), Emily Scarratt (74 caps) , Marlie Packer (61 caps) and Natasha Hunt (41 caps).

2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup finalist Sarah Bern starts at tighthead prop to make her first international appearance since the 2018 Six Nations. Poppy Cleall starts in the second row and her twin sister and Saracens team mate Bryony will be looking for her first international cap having been named as a substitute.

England coach Simon Middleton said: “We are looking forward to getting our Six Nations campaign underway and implementing some of the things we have been working on since the Quilter Internationals.

“It is great to have a number of players back in the squad from the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, as well those newer names who have impressed through the season so far.

“This first game has come a week too soon for a couple of players but this gives us an opportunity to test others, and there were some tough calls over positions. Selection has been based on recent form.

“We know that conditions are likely to be testing in Dublin on Friday but we are looking forward to returning to Donnybrook, a ground we know well, having lifted the Six Nations Grand Slam there in 2017. Whatever the conditions, we will be focussed on the task in hand.”

England match-day 23 against Ireland

15. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 17 caps)
14. Jess Breach (Harlequins Ladies, 2 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning, 74 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 2 caps)
11. Kelly Smith (Gloucester-Hartpury, 5 caps)
10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Loughborough Lightning, 102 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 24 caps)

1. Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 5 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 13 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women, 20 caps)
4. Catherine O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 7 caps)
5. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 24 caps)
6. Sarah Beckett (Firwood Waterloo, 1 cap)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 61 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 108 caps)

16. Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies, 41 caps)
17. Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, uncapped)
18. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Ladies, 5 caps)
19. Rosie Galligan (Saracens Women, uncapped)
20. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond Ladies, 47 caps)
21. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 41 caps)
22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 8 caps)
23. Emily Scott (Harlequins Ladies, 23 caps)


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