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Sarah Hunter returns to captain England against France in Women’s Six Nations Exhibition match

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France will be desperate to avenge their Six Nations final loss when they host the Red Roses in Lille on Friday night; Poppy Cleall at blindside flanker for England, while Zoe Aldcroft starts at lock; Vicky Fleetwood returns to the matchday squad at openside flanker to earn her 79th cap

Sarah Hunter will skipper the side

Sarah Hunter will skipper the side

Sarah Hunter will wear the No 8 jersey as she returns to skipper the Red Roses in England’s Women’s Six Nations Exhibition match against France on Friday.

The Red Roses take on France at Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lille in a re-run of last Saturday’s Six Nations final which England won 10-6.

Fresh from being named Player of the Match in last weekend’s final, Zoe Aldcroft starts at lock, while there is a first start of the tournament for fellow lock Harriet Millar-Mills. Poppy Cleall starts at blindside flanker.

Vicky Fleetwood returns to the matchday squad at openside flanker to earn her 79th cap.

Development players Merryn Doidge and Flo Robinson could earn their first senior caps as they are named among the finishers alongside Hannah Botterman and Sarah Beckett, who returns from an injury lay-off.

Cath O’Donnell sustained concussion last weekend and is now following graduated return to play protocols.

Vicky Fleetwood will win her 79th  cap Vicky Fleetwood will win her 79th cap

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Flanker Marlie Packer is ruled out after close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Packer is now isolating for 10 days as per government guidance.

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “We were absolutely delighted to secure the Six Nations title last Saturday.

“Attentions quickly turned to Friday’s game. We know France will be hurting and we need to be quick out of the blocks. Playing France in France is always a huge challenge and one we’re really looking forward to.

England beat France to win the Women's Six Nations title last Saturday England beat France to win the Women’s Six Nations title last Saturday

“Although we are missing players, it’s testament to the strength and depth of our squad that we are still able to name a very strong team.

“We’re pleased to have this vital game time against quality opposition.

“It’s a great opportunity to finish this period on a high.”

England team to play France: 15 Ellie Kildunne, 14 Jess Breach, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Sarah McKenna, 11 Abby Dow, 10 Zoe Harrison, 9 Leanne Riley, 1 Vickii Cornborough, 2 Amy Cokayne, 3 Shaunagh Brown, 4 Zoe Aldcroft, 5 Harriet Millar-Mills, 6 Poppy Cleall, 7 Vicky Fleetwood, 8 Sarah Hunter.

Repalcements: 16 Lark Davies, 17 Hannah Botterman, 18 Bryony Cleall, 19 Abbie Ward, 20 Sarah Beckett, 21 Claudia MacDonald, 22 Flo Robinson, 23 Merryn Doidge.

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