England change two for World Cup final
August 16, 2014
Natasha Hunt gets the nod at scrum-half for England © Getty Images
England coach Gary Street has made two changes ahead of their World Cup final against Canada on Sunday.
England saw off Ireland 40-7 to book a place in the Stade Jean-Bouin showpiece and Street has handed starts to Marlie Packer and Natasha Hunt who replace Alexandra Matthews and La Toya Mason respectively. Both loose-head Rochelle Clark and fullback Danielle Waterman will be playing in their third World Cup final.
"It was immensely tough to select this team," Street said. "We have 26 players fit and everyone is in a really good place freshness wise so it was a very tough call. We have had 27 players part of this World Cup experience and with one game to go it is always going to be very tough on those not selected.
"Marlie has been a great impact player this tournament. She is fresh having only played 20 minutes over the last two games so we are expecting her to add a lot of energy into our back-row. Natasha has also had a fantastic tournament and is also fresh from the semi-final having only just come on in the second half. She adds a real pace to our game which I think is going to be hugely important."
England will play Canada who knocked over hosts France 18-16 on Wednesday and Street is wary of the threats they pose. "Playing Canada in the pool stages, although it was very tough, was as it turned out, very useful. They really brought their A game to that match and we didn't perform as we wanted to. However, the errors that we made then we have learned from and we showed that in our performance against Ireland.
"Rugby World Cup finals are obviously very special but we are genuinely just thinking about playing Canada as just another game. We have to. In 2010 we felt a real weight of expectation going into the final and we have learned a lot from that experience."
England: Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Kay Wilson (Bristol), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Marlie Packer (Wasps), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, vice captain)
Replacements: Emma Croker (Richmond), Laura Keates (Worcester), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), La Toya Mason (Wasps), Ceri Large (Worcester), Claire Allan (Richmond)
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