Wyrwas makes first England start as WXV1 kicks off

Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington Dates: Friday, 20 October Kick-off: 07:00 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Scrum-half Ella Wyrwas will make her first start for England in the opening game of WXV1 against Australia on Friday in Wellington.

Regular starting scrum-half Lucy Packer was a late withdrawal from the travelling squad to New Zealand because of injury.

Centres Tatyana Heard and Megan Jones form a new-look midfield.

Number eight Alex Matthews returns to the side for the first time since winning the Grand Slam in April.

Matthews is joined in the back row by Exeter Chiefs’ Maisy Allen, who made her first start against Canada in September, and captain Marlie Packer.

Helena Rowland, who started in the centres against Canada, moves to full-back and is joined by Ealing Trailfinders wing Abby Dow and Saracens’ Jess Breach in the back three.

Interim head coach Louis Deacon takes charge of the side for the inaugural WXV tournament, before the arrival of new head coach John Mitchell.

Mitchell, 59, was defence coach for Japan’s men’s team at the Rugby World Cup in France.

“We have had a fantastic 10 days of bonding as a group on and off the field, and we are now relishing our first WXV match under the lights in Wellington on Friday,” Deacon said.

“We want to deliver a performance that shows progression and growth and want to get off to the best possible start in the competition.

“Facing an Australian side we don’t come up against too often only adds to the excitement.”

The Red Roses, who are the top-ranked side heading into the competition, also face Canada and New Zealand.

The three-tier competition, which will be staged in South Africa, Dubai and New Zealand over three weeks, aims to offer consistent annual fixtures for sides outside of World Cup years.

Among the replacements is Loughborough Lightning’s Daisy Hibbert-Jones, who could make her Red Roses debut off the bench.


England: Rowland; Dow, Jones, Heard, Breach; Aitchison, Wyrwas; Botterman, Powell, Muir, Galligan, Aldcroft, Allen, Packer, Matthews.

Replacements: Atkin-Davies, Carson, Clifford, Beckett, Hibbert-Jones, Hunt, Bridger, Sing.