TEAM NEWS | Saracens Women vs Harlequins Women (PWR - Rd 11)
Co-captain Marlie Packer admits that matches against Harlequins always tend to bring out the best in her side.
The London Derby is a rivalry that has always created iconic moments and Packer highlighted the match-up between her own side and Quins as one that continued to stand out as a fixture to whet the appetites of players and fans alike.
"Everyone is passionate about the team they play for and this game is a perfect example of where that club rivalry shines through! A week like this really puts the focus on performance back into the squad and we know we'll be prepared come kick-0ff. We know that Harlequins are always excited to play against us and we're always excited to play against them. It's a match-up that people want to be a part of!"
For all the talk about what may or may not happen on the field, Packer insists that the focus within the camp remains on getting their own performance right as a group. After a first defeat of the season against Gloucester-Hartpury, the England captain was pleased with how her side responded last weekend against Trailfinders.
"For us, we want to always focus on ourselves. At the beginning of the season, we wanted to get our DNA right as a squad. The result we got at the Stoop came from a really strong performance. We talk about how we want to play. For us, it's always about how we can challenge ourselves in certain areas. The Gloucester-Hartpury match was a tough pill to swallow and the performance was where it normally was. But, we bounced back last weekend and we need to make sure we produce again this weekend."
Ahead of The Duel, Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry has again shuffled his side.
Up front, McKinley Hunt and Kelsey Clifford start, with May Campbell returning to the starting XV at hooker.
It's an unchanged second-row pairing, with Georgia Evans and Louise McMillan adding the additional power for their side.
In the back-row, Sophie de Goede is with the Canadian 7s squad, so Sharifa Kasolo comes in to start on the blind-side, alongside co-captain Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall.
At half-back, Leanne Infante continues at scrum-half, with Beth Blacklock pulling the strings against her former employers.
The centres are unchanged, with Sarah McKenna and Sydney Gregson linking up, whilst Lotte Clapp returns on the left wing, alongside Paige Farries and Jess Breach in a dangerous back three.
On the bench, it's Bryony Field, Akina Gondwe and Donna Rose providing the front-row cover, with Emma Taylor and Grace Moore the additional forwards cover.
Elsewhere on the bench, Tori Sellors is the replacement scrum-half, with Zoe Harrison returning to the side for the first time since round 2 against Trailfinders. She is joined on the bench by the returning Sophie Bridger.
Saracens vs Harlequins has long been the most iconic rivalry in the women's game. New sides may have come to the fore in recent seasons, but Packer admitted that this fixture was one she always still looked for on the calendar.
"The first three finals in the league were Sarries and Quins. But the landscape has changed a bit in recent seasons. It's still one of those games for us, where you look for it in the calendar. You always need to put your best performance in against Harlequins. The fans tend to be the 16th player for both sides and we'll need them again this weekend."
Tickets are still available for tomorrow's match here.
Saracens Women's Team vs Harlequins Women:
1. McKinley Hunt
2. May Campbell
3. Kelsey Clifford
4. Louise McMillan
5. Georgia Evans
6. Sharifa Kasolo
7. Marlie Packer (Co-captain)
8. Poppy Cleall
9. Leanne Infante
10. Beth Blacklock
11. Lotte Clapp (Co-captain)
12. Sarah McKenna
13. Sydney Gregson
14. Paige Farries
15. Jess Breach
16. Bryony Field
17. Akina Gondwe
18. Donna Rose
19. Emma Taylor
20. Grace Moore
21. Tori Sellors
22. Zoe Harrison
23. Sophie Bridger