England Women head coach Simon Middleton makes four changes for Ireland Women in Six Nations
By Matthew Treadwell
Last Updated: 14/03/18 1:22pm
England Women head coach Simon Middleton has made four changes to his starting line-up from the defeat to France for their Six Nations game against Ireland.
Middleton's side have to win their final game of the tournament at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Friday night and hope France slip up against Wales if they are to successfully defend their title.
Gloucester-Hartpury wing Kelly Smith, who earned her first international cap against Scotland, earns her first start as does Bristol Ladies' Caity Mattinson, who replaces Leanne Riley at scrum-half for the Sky Live clash.
Mattinson's team-mate Lagi Tuima gets the nod at outside centre, with Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies) moving to inside centre.
Richmond's Rowena Burnfield comes in as the final change in the back row, while Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women) earns her place in the second row.
Three new players are included in the bench, with Shaunagh Brown of Harlequins Ladies hoping to make her first Six Nations appearance, while Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women) and Cath O'Donnell (Loughborough Lightning) are also on the bench.
"We fully expect the game against Ireland to be a tough, yet exciting encounter, they are a dangerous side, who will be looking to bounce back after their defeat by Scotland last week," Middleton told the England Rugby website.
"We are really looking forward to playing them at the Ricoh on Friday night in front of a bumper crowd.
"We have made changes across the starting 15, with new combinations in the forwards and the backs. We have depth in the EPS (elite player squad) squad and are confident that the players coming in will relish the opportunity to showcase their talents in the Six Nations, one of the flagship competitions in the women's game.
"We are determined to come away with the win on Friday night."
Abigail Dow of Wasps was unavailable for selection after being ruled out with concussion after Saturday's defeat in France.
The Red Roses last faced Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations at Donnybrook Stadium where they secured a 34-7 victory.
England Women side to face Ireland: 15 Ellie Kildunne, 14 Kelly Smith, 13 Lagi Tuima, 12 Rachael Burford, 11 Danielle Waterman, 10 Katy Daley-Mclean, 9 Caity Mattinson; 1 Vickii Cornborough, 2 Amy Cokayne, 3 Sarah Bern, 4 Abbie Scott, 5 Poppy Cleall, 6 Rowena Burnfield, 7 Marlie Packer, 8 Sarah Hunter.
Replacements: 16 Lark Davies, 17 Rochelle Clark, 18 Justine Lucas, 19 Cath O'Donnell, 20 Shaunagh Brown, 21 Leanne Riley, 22 Zoe Harrison, 23. Amber Reed.
Watch England Women v Ireland Women on Friday. Coverage begins on Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix at 5pm.