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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Thursday, 27 January 2011

England Women call up Fran Matthews for Six Nations

England's new captain Katy McLean
Fly-half Katy McLean will lead England into the new campaign

Richmond wing Fran Matthews has been called into the England Women's team for their opening Six Nations match in Wales on 6 February.

Matthews replaces Michaela Staniford, who has a fractured jaw, while centre Kimberley Oliver, scrum-half La Toya Mason and lock Rebecca Essex all start.

England include 16 of the 22 players on duty for the 2010 World Cup final.

New captain Katy McLean, who succeeds Catherine Spencer, leads the side as England target a sixth straight title.

"We have worked really hard since the disappointment of losing the World Cup," said head coach Gary Street, who is joined by assistant coach Graham Smith again this season.

We are all looking forward to getting back on the pitch and starting the healing process

England coach Gary Street

"We are fortunate that we haven't had many retirements since the World Cup and that this is still a relatively young squad, so we are now just looking forward to getting back on the pitch and playing again. Our aim is to raise our standards, and to focus 100% on this first game."

Wales finished ninth in the RWC, but England's last visit to the Principality in the Six Nations two years ago saw them beaten by a single point.

"The last time we played Wales in Wales we lost 16-15, so yes there is huge motivation for us here," Street added. "We got turned over last time and we don't want that to happen again.

"Wales, however, have a new coach in Kris da Scossa. Kris is very experienced, having previously worked for the Canadian national side, and I am sure for his players having a new coach will create extra motivation. This is a new start for them so we won't know what to expect.

"For us too, this is a new start with a new captain and vice-captain and we are all looking forward to getting back on the pitch and starting the healing process.

"There is huge anticipation for this game and the season ahead."

England team: Danielle Waterman (Worcester), Katherine Merchant, (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), Fran Matthews (Richmond); Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks - capt), La Toya Mason (Wasps); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Amy Garnett (Saracens), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Catherine Spencer (Bristol).

Replacements: Emma Croker (Richmond), Claire Purdy (Wasps), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Heather Fisher (Worcester), Georgina Rozario (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Richmond), Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks).

England's 2011 RBS Six Nations fixtures:

6 Feb: Wales v England (Cross Keys RFC) 1430

12 Feb: England v Italy (Esher RFC) 1630

27 Feb: England v France (Worcester RFC) 1305

13 Mar: England v Scotland (Twickenham Stadium, after men's Six Nations match) 1715

18 Mar: Ireland v England (Ashbourne RFC) 1930

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see also
Edwards handed Women's captaincy
26 Jan 11 |  Welsh
McLean handed England captaincy
20 Jan 11 |  English
Spencer quits as England captain
10 Jan 11 |  English
Twickenham to host England Women
08 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
NZ edge England to win World Cup
05 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
England Women retain Six Nations
19 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Highlights: Wales Women 16-15 England Women
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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