Cumbrian rugby union star Abbie Ward will return to action this weekend - just 17 weeks after giving birth.

The England international has been named in the Bristol side to take on Sale Sharks on Saturday.

Ward, 30, became a mum in July to her first child Halle.

The Keswick lock, who has made 61 appearances for England, now makes what her club have described as a "sensational" return to action.

Ward's husband Dave is the Bristol head coach who said Abbie had put in some impressive work in training ahead of her comeback.

"This is a big week training for her, I can't understate that," Dave Ward told BBC Radio Bristol earlier this week.

"She's done a couple of weeks of contact now, but she's probably not done it as much as she wanted to in a 15-on-15 setting.

"For her to come in and get a shot at either starting or on the bench this weekend, she's got to train well. She has done that, all credit to Abbie.

"It's not easy on both sides of the coin, and as a coach I have to be fair to the team and I have to be fair to Abbie as well.

"If I gave her selection, she'd hate me forever as a coach and as a husband, so she's definitely not going to be given anything. What she'll get either way this weekend is what she's earned."

Ward's last outing was in November 2022 in England's World Cup final defeat to New Zealand.

Speaking to RugbyPass recently, Ward spoke of her excitement at returning to action.

“Even though with all the night feeds and not having much sleep, it’s given me more energy being back in the rugby environment," she said.

“Just seeing the girls and getting my body moving excites me. There are a lot of new faces as well, I haven’t played for Bristol since the semi-final in 2022. I know I’ve got a lot to learn and catch up on and I want to make sure I put my best foot forward for the season”.