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Clark set to equal Leonard’s England caps record

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Rochelle Clark is given a message by Jason Leonard ahead of England’s game against France

Forward Rochelle Clark could equal Jason Leonard as the most-capped England rugby international after she was named on the bench for Wednesday’s international against France.

The 35-year-old has 113 caps, one behind Leonard, who retired in 2004.

The game at Twickenham Stoop (19:30 GMT) is the first in a series, with New Zealand, Canada and Ireland to follow.

“When I got my first cap, I never imagined I would go on to get so many,” Worcester player Clark told BBC Sport.

Clark, who was appointed MBE for services to rugby in 2015, is also two behind Scotland women’s world-record holder Donna Kennedy.

“Getting my 100th cap was special and I imagine it will feel like that,” said Clark. “I just want to get through the warm-up and make sure I am in one piece.”

Clark said she aspired to be a stalwart of the team like Leonard had been, adding: “I’ve looked up to him for a long time.”

England will be without key centre Emily Scarratt for the game after the 26-year-old Lichfield player was ruled out with concussion, while Bristol’s Amber Reed will miss the series with an ankle injury.

Clark, who made her debut in 2003, has seen the women’s game develop over the past few years, helped by England winning the 2014 World Cup.

“Each year the level of fitness improves, training sessions and the demands on your body are harder,” she said.

“Thanks to the help of the physios and the strength and conditioning team, I think I am in better shape than probably 10 years ago. The body has hardened and the injuries are healed and the mind is raring.”

England team: Danielle Waterman, Kay Wilson, Claire Allan, Rachael Burford, Fiona Pocock, Katy Mclean, Natasha Hunt, Vickii Cornborough, Amy Cokayne, Laura Keates, Tamara Taylor, Emily Braund, Alex Matthews, Marlie Packer, Sarah Hunter (c). Replacements: Vicky Fleetwood, Rochelle Clark, Sarah Bern, Harriet Millar-Mills, Izzy Noel-Smith, La Toya Mason, Emily Scott, Ceri Large.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37895379