England pair Laura Keates and Alex Matthews return to Allianz Premier 15s action tomorrow as Warriors Women take on Sale Sharks Women at the CorpAcq Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sale Sharks’ official social channels).
The talented duo, who were part of the Red Roses side that secured their number one status in the world with successive victories over France this month, are back in Warriors’ starting XV for the trip to Greater Manchester.
Keates slots in at tight-head and captains the side in the absence of the injured Lyndsay O’Donnell, while Matthews partners Wales international Alex Callender in the back-row.
Carys Phillips is ruled out with an ankle injury which she sustained against Loughborough Lightning a fortnight ago, with Carmen Tremelling replacing her at hooker. Jade Shekells and Paige Farries round off the changes, coming in at inside centre and on the wing respectively.
“Sale had an extremely competitive game against Gloucester-Hartpury last week and they pushed them all the way, so we know it’s going to be a tough challenge up there tomorrow,” said Warriors Women Director of Rugby Jo Yapp.
“They have Katy Daley-McLean back in their side and they’ll be full of confidence, so we’re expecting a tough challenge.
“We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this weekend’s game due to the international break and I’m pleased with how positive we’ve looked in training – the girls have continued their development.”
With hookers Phillips and El Febrey side-lined, Warriors have strengthened their front-row options with the arrival of Caryl Thomas and Hannah Stephens who both occupy the bench tomorrow.
Camarthen-born Thomas joins from Bristol Bears Women, having racked up more than 50 caps for Wales which spans three Rugby World Cups.
Meanwhile, Stephens joins on loan from Bath Rugby where she is the club’s HITZ Rugby Tutor, providing young people with new and exciting opportunities to gain life skills, interview techniques and qualifications.
“We’re really pleased to welcome Caryl and Hannah to the club ahead of tomorrow’s game,” added Yapp.
“Caryl has a lot of experience from her time in the Wales set-up and Hannah has done really well since joining us. They provides us with more cover in the front-row after we sustained a couple of injuries in our last league game.”
Warriors Women | 15 Abi Kershaw, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Vicky Foxwell, 12 Jade Shekells, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Sarah Nicholas, 9 Caity Mattinson, 1 Flo Long, 2 Carmen Tremelling, 3 Laura Keates (c), 4 Cara Brincat, 5 Elizabeth Shermer, 6 Alex Matthews, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Sioned Harries
Replacements | 16 Hannah Stephens, 17 Caryl Thomas, 18 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 19 Taz Bricknell, 20 Jo Brown, 21 Megan Varley, 22Hannah Bluck, 23 Zoe Heeley