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Your News England Women predicting fireworks

England Women's captain Catherine Spencer is predicting the toughest fought women's RBS 6 Nations championship in years when the tournament kicks off on Saturday February 6th at Esher RFC, kick off 7pm.

The England and Bristol No. 8, whose side take on Wales in the championship opener, hopes to guide her team to an unprecedented fifth consecutive title, but with five of the teams having one eye on the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup later this year she knows there is more at stake than usual.

"2010 is a very special year for us with the world cup only six months away," said Spencer, who'll earn her 51st cap on Saturday. "I have no doubt that this Six Nations will be tougher and more competitive than ever. And following our defeat to Wales last year this first game will certainly have an extra edge to it.

"Certainly our first aim is to perform as well as we possibly can in the Six Nations, but I know all the teams involved will using this tournament to prove themselves as we get closer to the World Cup."

England Head Coach Gary Street has largely kept faith in the team that defeated reigning world champions New Zealand in November. Fiona Pocock replaces Charlotte Barras on the wing because of injury, and La Toya Mason will now start at scrum half with Georgina Rozario on the bench because of an injury to Richmond's Amy Turner. On the bench Street is able to welcome back Team Northumbria's Rochelle Clark.

Spencer added: "We have a very strong 22 going into the game against Wales and I am delighted that Rochelle Clark is back in the squad. She is an influential member of our squad both on and off the pitch and I'm looking forward to seeing her return to international action following a period of injury.

"Following a successful 2009 and some really productive training in recent weeks we can't wait for the tournament to kick off. The Six Nations is very special to us and means a great deal. As in previous years we will be focussing on each game as it comes to get the best possible results, starting with the opening game against Wales on Saturday evening which is sure to be a firecracker."

The 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup kicks off on August 20th at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, with the semi finals and final being held at the Stoop in September.

England team v Wales

15 Claire Allan Richmond

14 Katherine Merchant Worcester

13 Emily Scarratt Lichfield

12 Rachael Burford Richmond

11 Fiona Pocock Richmond

10 Katy Mclean (VC) Darlington Mowden Park Sharks

9 La Toya Mason Wasps

1 Claire Purdy Wasps

2 Amy Garnett Saracens

3 Sophie Hemming Bristol

4 Rebecca Essex Richmond

5 Joanna McGilchrist Wasps

6 Heather Fisher Worcester

7 Margaret Alphonsi Saracens

8 Catherine Spencer (C) Bristol

Replacements:

16 Samantha Reeve Worcester

17 Rochelle Clark Team Northumbria

18 Rowena Burnfield Richmond

19 Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks

20 Georgina Rozario Bristol

21 Alice Richardson Richmond

22 Michaela Staniford Wasps

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