Davies to start for England

Warriors Women hooker Lark Davies will return to international action with England in their second match in the Women’s Rugby Super Series in San Diego on Saturday (kick-off 1.15am BST, Sunday).

Davies sat out last week’s victory over USA but returns as one of nine changes made by England Head Coach Simon Middleton, including an entirely new front row.

Captain Sarah Hunter returns to the starting line-up to lead the side from No 8, with Sarah Beckett also added to the back row.

In the backs there is a new centre partnership in the shape of Emily Scott and Millie Wood, with Carys Williams coming onto the wing in place of Lydia Thompson of Warriors Women, who made her international return after a spell out with injury, last week.

The Red Roses began the competition with a 38-5 victory over USA, while Canada were beaten 20-35 by New Zealand in the first round but responded with 36-19 win over France in round two when England had a bye.

“I think Canada have got the competition going with their performance against France as I don’t think many people expected them to win,” said Middleton.

“They play very differently now to what they used to, and they play to their strengths which is that physical nature. They’re really organised, come at you in attack in a very specific manner and can be very difficult to get the ball off.

“They have also grown their kicking game which proved to be very effective against both New Zealand and France and France so it’s going to be a massive challenge.

“It’s huge when Sarah Hunter plays for us. We have some great back row players but she has so much character and leadership so it’s great to have her back.

“This game is about taking the things we’ve done in training onto the field. It feels like quite a while since we played our first game but we’re now really ready to go.

“Touring and being successful in major competitions is about using your squad and players stepping up and taking their opportunities. We’ve got 28 players and now it’s about trusting them to do their jobs individually and collectively.

“In any successful squad you need players to demonstrate adaptability, players who can step in and step up are a valuable commodity when it comes to playing in Test series and World Cups. This will be a really tough game against a formidable and confident Canada side and as such provides a great opportunity to lots of players who have been sat waiting. “

The Red Roses last faced Canada in the November 2018 Quilter Internationals when they scored five tries in a 27-19 win at Castle Park in Doncaster. Before that, England faced Canada in three November internationals in 2017 when they completed a 3-0 series whitewash.

England Women
15 Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women)
14 Carys Williams (Loughborough Lightning)
13 Millie Wood (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
12 Emily Scott (Harlequins Ladies)
11 Kelly Smith (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
10 Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women)
9 Claudia Macdonald (Wasps FC Ladies)

1 Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies)
2 Lark Davies (Worcester Warriors Women)
3 Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women)
4 Catherine O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning)
5 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women)
6 Sarah Beckett (Firwood Waterloo Ladies)
7 Jo Brown (Loughborough Lightning)
8. Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning) (C)

Replacements
16 Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
17 Ellena Perry (Saracens Women)
18 Chloe Edwards (Harlequins Ladies)
19 Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies)
20 Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women – 30 caps)
21. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies)
22 Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning)
23 Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women)