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England women’s captain Sarah Hunter is set to equal Rocky Clark’s cap record against France

England women’s rugby captain Sarah Hunter is set to equal the Red Roses’ international record against France on Saturday.

Marlie Packer is set to replace Sadia Kabeya at Openside Flanker as Simon Middleton makes a change ahead of their Rugby World Cup clash in Whangarei.

Kabeya left the squad despite starting the tournament against Fiji, which England won convincingly 84-19.

Hunter, who will match Rocky Clark’s record 137 caps this weekend, said: “I just picked up the ball and played the game because I loved it. I didn’t know there was an England women’s team.

“However, standing here many years later is quite unbelievable.

“It’s almost a pinch-me moment and someone will say, ‘You’ll wake up from your dream soon.’ It has been an incredible journey and hopefully it will continue for a little longer.

“Rocky Clark is an absolute legend, so being in the same breath as her is very special.

“I think it’s something I’ll look back at after the game and realize that the focus this week has to be on the team and how I can be the best version of myself and contribute to the team’s performance.”

Head coach Middleton added: “I’ve been fortunate to be there when some of England’s biggest players achieve massive milestones.

“I’ve seen all these players have good games, not so good games, great games and good training sessions, not so good training sessions and great training sessions.

“I’ve never seen Sarah have a bad workout or a bad game. Every single session with her is top notch and her consistency is pretty phenomenal.

“Sarah is about breaking records, not equals, so I’ll probably reserve some comments for the next time she takes the field.”

Middleton also admitted France will be a “big challenge” for England, who came into the tournament as hot favorites to lift the trophy.

“They always present a great challenge and this time will be no different,” he said.

“They have had a new coaching setup since our last game and we look forward to another big test and close competition which I expect.

“The opening weekend at Eden Park was a special event to be a part of. World Cups are big events and it doesn’t matter how many caps you have or how many games you’ve played, nerves can come into play and we’ve seen that a bit with us.

“I was amazed at how the team solved problems and played after half-time. It showed great character.’

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