England v France: Simon Middleton demands perfection from World Cup favourites Red Roses
Middleton’s team tackle France in Whangarei on Saturday (8.00am UK time), a week after opening their campaign by beating Fiji 84-19.
France, world-ranked number four, began their World Cup quest in New Zealand by crushing South Africa 40-5.
And, while England will be favourites to post a 27th successive Test victory against all opponents, Middleton knows that a big challenge awaits.
“France will have a few differences to their game that we have to be aware of and be really conscious of in terms of how we go about playing,” he said.
“We know against France there will be other challenges to when we play other sides.
“Whether we are on 10 wins or 10 losses, it doesn’t make a difference.
“It is a World Cup pool game, it’s a huge game, so our focus is very much on being the best version of ourselves and getting our game on the field.”
England skipper Sarah Hunter will become her country’s joint most-capped international, with a 137th Test appearance putting her alongside prop Rocky Clark.
Hunter will be joined in the back row by Saracens’ Marlie Packer, who replaces Sadia Kabeya at openside flanker as a solitary change from the Fiji encounter. There are also places in the team for Scarborough lock Zoe Aldrcroft and Keighley full-back Ellie Kildunne. Middleton added: “Our aim was always to field a consistent side for our opening two matches.