Marlie Packer first thought she was getting dropped ahead of England’s World Cup clash against South Africa… but Red Roses coach Simon Middleton instead handed her the captain’s armband for the first time!
- Marlie Packer thought she was getting dropped by head coach Simon Middleton
- Instead he asked her to captain England for the first time against South Africa
- She said: ‘I did think at first he was going to say I was dropped for the weekend’
- Middleton has made 13 changes to his side after winning against Fiji and France
Marlie Packer thought she was getting dropped when England head coach Simon Middleton called her to one side in training this week.
Instead, Saracens flanker Packer received the news she will captain the Red Roses for the first time in tomorrow’s World Cup match against South Africa.
Packer missed the first of England’s pool stage wins in New Zealand due to a slight foot problem and has the promising 20-year-old Sadia Kabeya biting at her heels.
Marlie Packer thought she was getting dropped as Simon Middleton took her aside in training
Instead the 33-year-old was told she will captain England for the first time against South Africa
England’s lineup versus South Africa
McKenna; Dow, Aitchison, Heard, Breach; Harrison, Packer; Botterman, Powell, Muir, Galligan, O’Donnell, Talling, Packer (capt), Cleall.
Packer said: ‘We started to talk about the team and the head coach said, “We need to speak to you about that — we are going to put you as captain this week”.
‘I did think at first he was going to say I was dropped for the weekend.’
But she is not worried by Kabeya’s startling emergence having previously had to battle former England captain Maggie Alphonsi for a starting spot.
‘Sadia is not the first player who has been biting at my heels in my career,’ Packer added.
‘I suppose it is the same as when I was younger and Maggie was in the squad.
‘We are at a World Cup and sometimes rotation happens but I am not worried about Sadia.
‘I know I am playing well. When the head coach comes over and it is selection time I know something is going to be said, but it has never been about being captain before so that is why it was such a surprise.
‘Whatever I can do to help Sadia become one of the best players in the world I will do, but I just need to keep worrying about myself.’
Middleton has made 13 changes to his starting side for South Africa after wins over Fiji and France sealed a quarter-final spot but England should still have too much for South Africa.
Boss Middleton has made 13 changes to the starting lineup after wins against Fiji and France