Women's Six Nations column: England's Katy Mclean previews Italy clash

Katy Mclean will start England's Six Nations opener against Italy at fly-half. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

I love travelling -- I love playing away from home because I think it's always a fantastic atmosphere. It's amazing to see how people in other countries view their rugby.

The Six Nations is up there with the World Cup as one of my favourite tournaments.

You think you know what's coming, but it will always throw up something unexpected. You know the teams you're going to play, but every year something will be different and the opportunity to play in Italy, France and Scotland this year makes this one of my favourite rounds of the Six Nations.


Starting against Italy will be a tough test. They always ask questions of us and always start really well. I think the last couple of games, the way they have started has always been their strength and we've been prepping hard to try to negate that.

We will also play Scotland on a Friday night in Glasgow, and we're away to France. When you go away to big rugby countries, you know the games are going to be massive.

That's the beauty of the Six Nations -- the standard and quality of the rugby has moved on. There are no easy games now.


Preparations have gone really well for our opener on Sunday. Things are different from this time last year, when we had been in camp for a lot more time. It's been different for some of us to come back in and do just a week's prep beforehand and then a couple of days in the lead-up to the game but the girls are looking sharp and we can't wait to get started.

The new girls have come in and added a new dimension. Some have never played in a Six Nations tournament so it's very different to last year when the squad had real experience and we'd been together a long time.

But it's really refreshing to see these girls and the excitement they have for their first Six Nations. We're probably a bit quicker and have a bit more flair, hopefully. It's been great for the girls to show that in training.


We still have a lot of experience and leadership. There's obviously Tamara Taylor, Amy Cockayne, and Rocky Clarke. But the beauty of this squad is that there are so many leaders. The likes of Danielle Waterman and Rachael Burford are really good among at steadying the younger players among the backs.

That was a massive part of our role in the autumn -- to provide experience and guidance for the flair that the likes of Ellie Kildunne and Abigail Dow bring. As a squad it's really nice to see that.

We've got Lark Davies starting at two and I'm sure Amy will be the first to point her in the right direction and answer any questions that she has. It's a testament to how closely knit this team is.

We do look after the younger players in the way that all new caps need to be looked after! They get a bit of banter from the senior girls!

Sarah Hunter has been our captain for a few years now, but as a 10 you're always involved in the game and the decision-making. Sometimes it's nice to know if it's a bad decision I can always blame Sarah!

Six Nations goal

Being defending champions definitely adds to the pressure. But we view every Six Nations individually. We know we've got a big game to kick off with. We play France and Ireland towards the back of the Championship. But at the moment we're focusing on Italy, and then Wales.

Obviously, defending our crown is very important to us, but you can only look at the next game you're playing. For us, that's Italy on Sunday.