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Infante set for 50th cap when England face Ireland

Sarah Bern, Abbie Ward, Leanne Infante and Amber Reed have been named in Simon Middleton's Red Roses side to face Ireland at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Emily Scarratt is set to earn her 100th cap at her hometown stadium while scrum half Leanne Infante reaches the 50 cap milestone.

Helena Rowland plays at full-back for the first time in her England career with Lydia Thompson and Jess Breach making up the back three.

Zoe Aldcroft (lock) returns for her first appearance of the 2022 tournament after injury, Abbie Ward (lock) starts while Sarah Hunter captains the side at No.8.

Alex Matthews (blindside flanker) and Marlie Packer (openside flanker) are also selected.

Vickii Cornborough (loosehead prop), Lark Davies (hooker) and Sarah Bern (tighthead prop) retain their spots in the front row.

Saracens duo Zoe Harrison and Holly Aitchison make up the 10-12 axis.

Long-term absentees Amy Cokayne and Hannah Botterman are named among the finishers.

Over 15,000 tickets have already been sold for Sunday’s game which looks set to be a new record attendance for a standalone Red Roses home game. Tickets are still available here.

Middleton said: “We’re really looking forward to our second home game of this Six Nations campaign and playing at Welford Road.
 
“It will be a very special day for two of our players. I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Emily Scarratt and Leanne Infante on their 100 cap and 50 cap milestones respectively.
 
“It will be an incredible occasion for ‘Scaz’ in her hometown, you couldn’t write it and the stars have really aligned.
 
“Leanne fully deserves the recognition, 50 caps is a massive achievement. She’s been competing with very tough opposition for the scrum half shirt for a number of years but has really established herself as a key part of the Red Roses. We’re looking forward to marking the day with her.
 
“We’re very mindful of Ireland’s player availability situation and it’s a real shame as they have gone well and shown some good passages of play. That said, we know the players who come in to their team will give everything. It’s a huge opportunity for them to show what they can do and we must be ready for that challenge.
 
“We’ve had another good few days of training at Bisham Abbey and are looking forward to travelling to Leicester to finalise our preparations.
 
“We look set to break Red Roses home attendance records again which is remarkable and we thank the people of Leicester and beyond for their support. The atmosphere at Kingsholm was brilliant and even some of our most experienced players had never really played in anything like it.
 
“It was very special and we know it will be the same on Sunday.”
 
England team to play Ireland

15. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 13 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 51 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 99 caps)
12. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 6 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Harlequins, 20 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 36 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Bristol Bears, 49 caps)
 
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 67 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 38 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 43 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 28 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 53 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 48 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 81 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning, 133 caps)
 
Finishers
16. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 60 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 26 caps)
18. Maud Muir (Wasps, 7 caps)
19. Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 4 caps)
20. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 53 caps)
21. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 57 caps)
22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 60 caps)
23. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 21 caps)


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