ENGLAND beat mighty New Zealand twice in the autumn and now the world’s best player is back to make them even more frightening.
Red Roses romped to two record wins over the world champions Black Ferns without centre Emily Scarratt.
England are ready to welcome Emily Scarratt back from injury for the Six NationsCredit: Getty
England’s record points scorer has been sidelined since suffering a horrific compound fracture and dislocation of her left ankle in the first game of the Premier 15s season back in September.
But the Loughborough Lightning ace, 32, returned ahead of schedule and will start in the No13 jersey in today’s Six Nations opener against Scotland.
England are unbeaten in 18 Tests since 2019 and favourites to make it four Six Nations titles in a row.
And head coach Simon Middleton is buzzing to have the 2019 World Player of the Year back in the fold.
He said: “We’ll manage her and watch her carefully. She’s trained fantastically well. She’s built her training volume up.
“We would have liked — as would Loughborough — to have got that extra game in for her before the Six Nations.
“But with the way we train, we’re comfortable we’ve got the volume in that we need for her.
“Whether she plays the whole game will depend on how we go and how Scotland go and obviously how she goes.
“We’re delighted to have her back, she brings that class and quality to the set-up. We’re really pleased for her considering the terrible injury. It’s great that she’s come back and she looks in great form.”
Scarratt’s return is particularly timely with England looking to hit the ground running in a huge year for the women’s game with the World Cup in New Zealand in the autumn.
Middleton added: “We go into this year’s Six Nations with some clear objectives in terms of the improvements we are looking for in our performances.
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Emily Scarratt returned early from injury and is set to play against ScotlandCredit: Getty
“The players are crystal clear in terms of how we want to play and what we want our game to look like.
“What we now need to find out is which players can put the best version of our game on the field come the big occasion.”
Scotland go into today’s clash on a high after clinching their World Cup spot with victory over Colombia earlier this year.
Emily Scarratt suffered a horrific compound fracture and dislocation of her left ankleCredit: Rex
But you need to go all the way back to 1999 for their last win over England while the Red Roses topped 50 points in all the last three meetings.
Jade Konkel will be key to Scottish hopes after returning to international rugby last year following a sabbatical — during which the 28-year-old trained to be a firefighter.
The Harlequins No8 wins her 50th cap and faces an intriguing back-row battle with England skipper Sarah Hunter.
Scotland coach Bryan Easson paid tribute to Konkel, saying: “Reaching 50 caps for your country is a significant milestone for any player and I’m delighted to see Jade reach that honour this weekend.”