England women's captain Hunter to miss Six Nations finale

London (AFP) –


England women's captain Sarah Hunter has been ruled out of the Six Nations finale away to Italy, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced Tuesday.

The No 8 will miss England's bid for a second successive Grand Slam with a hamstring injury.

Vice-captain Emily Scarratt will lead the team in Hunter's absence, with flanker Marlie Packer included in the squad for Sunday's game in Parma after nine months out with injury.

"We're really looking forward to our final Six Nations game against Italy where we're targeting the Grand Slam," said England coach Simon Middleton in a RFU statement.

"We're naturally disappointed Sarah Hunter is ruled out but we feel it's best she sits out of this one in order to recover properly."

England retained their Six Nations title last week after nearest challengers France were held to a surprise 13-13 draw by Scotland in Glasgow.

That result left England with an unassailable six-point lead heading into the final round.