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Emily Scarratt helped England to a third successive Women’s Six Nations title in 2021

Allianz Premier 15s – Loughborough Lightning v Exeter Chiefs
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton Date: Saturday, 19 February Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on the BBC Sport website and app.

England star Emily Scarratt says she has “a couple of big weeks ahead” as she aims to return from injury in time for March’s Women’s Six Nations.

The centre hopes to be “somewhere close” to returning in two to three weeks, with England’s tournament opener against Scotland on 26 March.

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Scarratt broke her leg three minutes into her first game of the season with Loughborough Lightning in September.

“I’m back out running and doing little bits in team sessions,” Scarratt said.

“I’ve got a couple of big weeks ahead of me. If they all go to plan then I should be somewhere near rocking and rolling.

“I’m not trying to put a time-frame on it just yet. I’ve got a certain amount of things I’ve got to get through.

“If that goes well then hopefully I’ll be somewhere close in the next two or three weeks.”

England must keep improving in ‘massive year’

Scarratt said the Women’s Six Nations – which will take place in a separate window from the men’s tournament for the second year in a row – has provided “a good target” in her return.

The Red Roses are bidding for a fourth successive title after a record-breaking autumn in the 32-year-old’s absence.

An even better incentive is October’s World Cup, with England among the favourites to win after two dominant victories against holders New Zealand in November.

But Scarratt says “the rest of the women’s game is moving on an awful lot”, citing the professional contracts awarded to Wales players and France’s autumn wins against the Black Ferns.

“We have to keep pushing on as well,” added Scarratt.

“It’s no good patting ourselves on the back for the last however many years.

“This year is a massive year in the context of the World Cup. There are a lot of things that we want to continue to improve on so that we are in the best possible spot for that.”

‘Tight game’ at Franklin’s Gardens awaits

Scarratt has played for Loughborough since 2018

As well as an increasingly strong international scene, Scarratt says this Premier 15s season is “without a doubt” the most competitive she has seen.

The top four sides will qualify for the semi-finals and, with five regular season games to go, just 10 points separate third and seventh.

Scarratt’s side Loughborough are sixth and on Saturday face a crucial encounter with fourth-placed Exeter at Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens.

It will be the first time the side have played at the Premiership ground after Northampton Saints and Loughborough Lightning announced a partnership in September.

The women’s side will play after the men’s team host Sale and Scarratt says the opportunity for Loughborough to play in front of a new crowd is “so exciting”.

“[It] is the best opportunity to go down there and take our support with us and hopefully get the Saints support to stay after the game and really unite the two sides,” she said.

“We know it will be a tough game. It will be great to be at Franklin’s Gardens for such a tight game to show new audiences women’s rugby and what it’s all about.

“It’s a massive opportunity for us in terms of reaching new audiences and most importantly to hopefully come away with something from that game.”