- Spencer captained England in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup
- The flanker won 63 caps for her country, scoring 18 tries
- Buy tickets to see England Women v Scotland, here
- See Maggie Alphonsi’s latest column here
The Red Roses face Scotland on Saturday at Twickenham Stoop (kick-off 1pm, streamed live on EnglandRugby.com and on 5 live sports extra) in their fourth match of this year’s Women’s Six Nations.
England top the 2017 Women’s Six Nations table ahead of Ireland on points difference heading into the penultimate round of matches, following wins against France (26-13), Wales (0-63) and Italy (29-15).
Former England captain Catherine Spencer picks out three players from the Red Roses squad she believes will be crucial to their chances in this weekend's clash.
AMY COKAYNE, HOOKER, 23 CAPS (LICHFIELD)
“Amy is a fantastic hooker and offers something quite different to Vicky Fleetwood. Whereas Vicky is more athletic and dynamic, Amy is a more direct runner. She has the ability to punch holes in the opposition defence and pull defenders in. The Red Roses are blessed to have two world-class hookers in their squad that both bring something different to the table."England need to add more carries to their game and Amy can do this from the number two shirt."
“I’ve highlighted her because England need to add more carries to their game and Amy can do this from the number two shirt. The team can build on her strong runs and it enables the backs to find space out wide. She has a great skill set too alongside her power, she produces some terrific offloads that keep the momentum going in attack.
“Amy also has a knack of scoring tries which is quite impressive for a front-row forward. She has six tries in 23 caps, scoring in the match against Wales in round two. She also has nine tries in the Women’s Premiership for Lichfield this season so she obviously enjoys getting over the try line. She often pops up in midfield and links up really well with the playmakers.”
SARAH HUNTER, NO. 8, 88 CAPS (BRISTOL)
“It’s interesting that we’re coming up to the fourth round of the Women’s Six Nations and I’ve not mentioned England’s captain until now.
"I played in the back row with her a lot for England, when she first came into the side I played at No.8 and she played blindside flanker. It was like lining up next to a brick wall, nothing would get passed her. I really enjoyed playing with Sarah and I’ve seen her develop hugely throughout her career. She’s seamlessly transferred to No.8 and works well with Alex Matthews in this team. She controls the ball well at the base of the scrum and doesn’t take a backwards step."It was like lining up next to a brick wall."
“She’s made 22 carries and 23 tackles so far in the Six Nations, which are good statistics. However, she does a lot of the work that goes unseen. She cleans up a lot of loose ball at the breakdown and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
“Sarah is a reliable and consistent player and has led England really well since the last World Cup, in what hasn’t always been the easiest time for the Red Roses.
"She is a captain that doesn’t get ruffled easily and is so composed. She leads by example and has one of the biggest smiles in rugby, she must be a terrific captain to play under. She has become a very respected player and person in the world of rugby.”
EMILY SCOTT, FLY HALF, 19 CAPS (SARACENS)
“One person’s misfortune provides an opportunity for someone else and that’s exactly the case here. With Katy Mclean suspended for the rest of the championship, there is a real opening for Emily at fly-half.
“I saw her play her first cap against France at Twickenham where half of her former club Thurrock were cheering her on. She had a good impact in that game even though she was on the wing.
“Emily can potentially offer something different to Katy with the pace she can bring to the game. She has come back from the sevens at the Olympics in Rio last summer a better player. Not only have her skills developed but also her confidence and competence at international level.
“The Red Roses have relied on Katy in the number 10 shirt for a very long time and it’s great for the side to now have some healthy competition. I think Emily is potentially a long-term replacement and at the age of 24 has a long career ahead of her.”
“Scotland got their first win in a number of years last time out against Wales and that was a great win for the competition. They also came close to getting a result against Ireland in the first round and conceded in the 82nd minute to lose, so it shows they have the strength and stamina to go all the way until the final whistle. They are not a team to be taken lightly."They need to be aggressive and suck defenders in to the breakdown area."
“However, England have a named a really strong side and I think they will win fairly well. The Red Roses have played well so far, their backs have shown their ability, but I would like to see a more powerful performance up front from the forwards.
"They need to be aggressive and suck defenders in to the breakdown area. It all starts in the middle and if the forwards perform well there it provides space out wide for the backs, who have finished off nearly everything so far in this year’s Six Nations.”