Scarratt last played in January 2023

Emily Scarratt has been named in a matchday squad for the first time in over a year after recovering from a neck injury which threatened to end her glittering career. Scarratt will start at inside-centre for club Loughborough Lightning in their Premiership Women’s Rugby match against Bristol Bears on Friday.

Scarratt last played rugby in January 2023 and has since had neck surgery. The England international, who won the World Cup in 2014, had the surgery in a bid to prolong her playing career.

Related: Premiership Women’s Rugby fixtures

Loughborough’s head coach Nathan Smith has praised his inspirational player when commenting on her return.

“It is big for the group,” said Smith. “We’ve got a lot of young players who should look up to people like that and rightly so. I think they’re really excited to play with someone of that magnitude. The Lightning medical team and the RFU medical team have done an exceptional job on her.

“Scaz coming back is an absolute testament to her character in terms of what keeps her motivated to want to play.”

Scarratt, who has 108 England caps, last played for her country in the Rugby World Cup final where the team lost to New Zealand.

The star gave details on her surgery on her podcast The Good, the Scaz and the Rugby: “The scar on the front of my neck is where they go in. They move your windpipe out of the way to get to where they need to be and I basically had a disc replacement.

“It means they take out a disc and they put a false one, an artificial one, in. This disc is 14mm big, it’s tiny. It’s insane what you’re able to do after such a big surgery.”

She comes back to the pitch in a bid to get her club into the PWR semi-finals. Loughborough are currently fifth after four wins from nine games, they are nine points outside of the top four play-off spots.

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