Emily Scarratt will captain England in their TikTok Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider against France in Bayonne on Super Saturday.

Scarratt will lead the side on her 101st appearance in the absence of regular skipper Sarah Hunter who was ruled out with a rib injury sustained in the 69-0 win over Ireland at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in Round 4.

Head coach Simon Middleton has made one change from last week’s starting XV with Hunter replaced at No.8 by Poppy Cleall, who is fit to start after winning her own injury battle with a calf problem, while flanker Alex Matthews will win her 50th cap.

Back-row forwards Sarah Beckett and Sadia Kabeya come onto the bench in a 6-2 split, with Amber Reed dropping out of the 23.

Middleton said: “Alex Matthews is someone I’ve had the privilege of working with for a very long time. She is a fantastic player, she has a great skill set and is an amazing athlete with a phenomenal work rate.

“To reach 50 caps and also be as successful on the sevens circuit as she has been should not be underestimated. Alex is also extremely humble too.

“We are all disappointed for Sarah Hunter on missing the game due to injury. If it was up to Sarah, she would have played but she was not medically available for selection.

“I’m pleased she’s able to join us over in France to support preparations. At the same time, it gives us another opportunity to test our leadership depth in the most pressurised of situations and to that end we are in good hands with Emily Scarratt leading the side.”

Scarratt is usually Hunter’s vice-captain and that role for this weekend has gone to Bristol Bears second row Abbie Ward, who Middleton believes will thrive with the responsibility.

He added: “Abbie is a natural leader within our ranks and as one of Sarah’s generals has helped to lead the side brilliantly, she is an integral member of the squad and I know she’s proud to have this role this weekend.”

The Red Roses have played their last two home games in front of record crowds and with another bumper sell-out expected at the Stade Jean

Dauger, Middleton knows his side will face a stern challenge in the face of vocal home support when this hotly-anticipated fixture kicks off at 2.15pm.

“It was fantastic to play in front of record crowds in Gloucester and Leicester in our previous two matches. Playing France in France is always a massive challenge.

“They have been the leaders in attracting large crowds for a long time. It’s great that we are now replicating that and Gloucester and Leicester should be applauded.

“I suspect everyone looked at this fixture at the start of the Six Nations and singled it out as a potential decider, well that’s what we’ve come to.

“France have been in great form during the campaign but so have we. As a staff group, we are massively proud of the way the players have attacked this competition, we challenge them every day to be the best they can be in everything they do both on and off the field and they have risen to the challenge as one.

“Saturday will not define us as a team but there’s no hiding away from the fact that so much is riding on the game. That’s fine by us, we want that level of challenge, otherwise how do you realise your potential and prove your worth?

“Matches against France are always tight affairs. We know this one will be no different. I believe it will come down to which squad can maintain their intensity and focus, something we have done well in this competition. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is more accessible than ever before. To find out how you can watch the Women’s Championship visit: womens.sixnationsrugby.com/tv/