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Wales Flanker Alex Callender Gets Circled For England Date On Sunday

Teenage flanker Alex Callender will be thrown into the heat of a Wales v England battle on Sunday when she makes her first international start for Wales women.

The 18-year-old Scarlets player – a student at Cardiff Met – is one of five changes made by head coach Rowland Phillips for unbeaten England’s visit to Cardiff Arms Park (12.30pm).

Callender has been handed her first start after making her debut against France in the opening game of the tournament and Mel Clay returns in the second row after recovering from a leg injury. They replace Manon Johnes and Natalia John.

In the backs, 50-times capped Elinor Snowsill will start at full-back, Hannah Bluck will start at inside centre and Jess Kavanagh starts on the left wing in place of Lauren Smyth, Alicia McComish and Lisa Neumann.

Phillips said, “Alex has impressed coming off the bench in both our Women’s Six Nations games so far and deserves a chance to start.

“We are developing a nice pool of players to select from in the back three and Elinor and Jess will no doubt put their own stamp on the game on Sunday and Hannah Bluck’s physicality will give us some extra options in the centre.

“Manon Johnes and Lauren Smyth have been excellent since making their international debuts in the autumn but they are 18 and 17 and it’s a case of managing their progress. Alex Callender is also 18 so it’s fantastic to be blooding so much exciting young talent at the moment.

“England are such a powerful team and that gives them attacking opportunities. It will be up to us to meet that physical challenge but it’s tests like these that can make players and teams.

“We showed the strength of our team spirit and commitment in the final ten minutes against Italy and we will need to bring the same approach and work ethic to Sunday’s match.

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“We are determined to continue to develop as a team and compete against the best sides in the world. We know we still have a lot of work to do but there is a lot of momentum in our young group and in the talent coming through in Wales at the moment. 

“Cardiff Arms Park is a great home for us, we are looking forward to benefitting from some vocal support from across the rugby community after two away fixtures. The players really appreciate the support, not only for them as players but for all those they represent.” 

WALES WOMEN v ENGLAND Sunday 24 Feb 12.30 Cardiff Arms Park:

Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Hannah Bluck (Cardiff Blues), Jess Kavanagh (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Dragons), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Natalia John (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Lisa Neumann (RGC); Lauren Smyth (Ospreys)

Tickets for Wales Women v England are available to print at home from Cardiff Blues Box Office.


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