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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Monday, January 22nd 2018

Bristol Ladies quintet named in England squad ahead of Six Nations opener

Five Bristol Ladies have been retained in Simon Middleton’s England Women training squad for the final week of Six Nations preparations.

Caity Mattinson, Amber Reed, Lagi Tuima, Poppy Leitch and Izzy Noel-Smith are all included ahead the competition opener against Italy in Stadio Mirabello (KO 17:30 GMT, Live Sky Sports).

“This is an important camp in terms preparation for our opening game,” said Simon Middleton, England head coach.

“We are under no illusions around the challenge of playing Italy. They are very skilled and unpredictable side in their style of play, with a strong pack and good set piece."

Lagi Tuima in action against Canada at Twickenham last year (JMP UK).

“For the players this is their final opportunity to put their hand up for selection.

"Our goal is to win the Six Nations and to do that we will be picking our strongest squad of players available, so it’s essential that individuals perform at the top of their game in this camp.”

The Red Roses will convene again on February 2nd when they depart for their opening Test against Italy. England won the Six Nations in 2017 with their first Grand Slam since 2012.

Meanwhile, Carys Phillips skippers Wales, while Caryl Thomas, Elinor Snowsill and Rhiannon Parker are included in Rowland Phillips’ squad ahead of the Six Nations.

In further positive news for Bristol Ladies, outstanding back rower Claire Molloy earns a call-up for Ireland Women.

Wales Head coach Rowland Phillips said of the squad: "They've brought a real hunger and energy to training, which is infectious. There's a fresh feel to the squad, and a sense of building for the long term."

"The younger players have played the game a lot longer now. We're seeing 18-year-olds who have played rugby for the past six or seven years, where in previous years they might have converted from different sports or taken up the game from an older age. It reflects the growth of the game in Wales.

"The exciting thing for us as coaches is that we're identifying players outside of this squad who we can see have great potential, whether that's at regional U18 or regional senior level. Those youngsters are allowing us to forward plan as we build towards the 2021 World Cup."

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