Sadia Kabeya to start for England as Abby Dow makes bench for Fiji clash

Flanker Sadia Kabeya will start England’s World Cup opener against Fiji on Saturday, with winger Abby Dow set to return from a broken leg.

Kabeya, who has just four caps, tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in New Zealand and only came out of isolation on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old starts ahead of 2014 World Cup winner Marlie Packer, who misses out with a foot injury.

Dow broke her leg in April’s Women’s Six Nations but has made a rapid return to fitness and is named among the replacements for the game at Eden Park in Auckland.

Sarah Hunter will captain the side from number eight, with outside centre Emily Scarratt her vice-captain.

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “We’ve selected an experienced matchday 23 who we feel are in a good position to get our campaign off to a strong start.

“We know we could have selected any of the wider squad and there are nine players this week with a key supporting role.

Simon Middleton
England head coach Simon Middleton has named his side for their World Cup opener against Fiji (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“It’s a privilege to come up against a team in their first-ever World Cup match. We know they have talented players and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s great to hear over 30,000 tickets have been sold for the opening day too.

“I’m really pleased with the group effort in training and we can’t wait to get started at an iconic venue in Eden Park on Saturday.”