England v New Zealand: Holly Aitchison replaces injured centre Emily Scarratt

Holly Aitchison playing for Team GB
Holly Aitchison was part of the Great Britain sevens side that finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics
Venue: Sandy Park, Exeter Date: Sunday, 31 October Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, with live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Olympian Holly Aitchison will take injured star Emily Scarratt’s place at outside centre on her England XVs debut against New Zealand on Sunday.

Sevens player Aitchison – part of Team GB at Tokyo 2020 – steps in after Scarratt broke her leg in September.

Amber Reed will start at 12 and be vice-captain in Scarratt’s absence.

Zoe Harrison starts at fly-half, with Claudia MacDonald at nine and 20-year-old forward Maud Muir is poised to make her debut off the bench in Exeter.

Prolific try-scorer Jess Breach is unavailable through injury, with Lydia Thompson starting on the right wing and Abby Dow on the left.

Prop Sarah Bern returns to the front row after missing most of the 2020-21 season through injury and fellow tight-head Shaunagh Brown is left out of the squad as Muir is preferred on the bench.

Hannah Botterman will start at loose-head, while Poppy Cleall moves to lock from the back row and Zoe Aldcroft takes her place at flanker.

England – the number one ranked side in the world – face second-ranked New Zealand at Exeter’s Sandy Park before taking on the same opponents at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton the following Sunday.

Tests against Canada and the United States complete their autumn schedule and all four games will be live on BBC Two.

The Black Ferns, the current world champions, host the World Cup next year.

England head coach Simon Middleton said: “Holly Aitchison has probably been our best trainer this week. She’s a really good talent, probably one of the young starlets, but has had a lot of injuries. The sevens series did her a power of good and she has played fantastically well at Saracens.”

England team: Kildunne; Thompson, Aitchison, Reed, Dow; Harrison, MacDonald; Botterman, Davies, Bern, P Cleall, Ward, Aldcroft, Packer, Hunter (capt).

Replacements: Cokayne, Cornborough, Muir, Millar-Mills, Matthews, Infante, Rowland, Tuima.

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