SCOTLAND coach Shade Munro has picked a team designed to be too fast and too inventive for Wales in Friday night’s opening round of the Women’s Six Nations Championship.
Munro was denied a final assessment of his squad when bad weather forced the cancellation of the recent game against Spain, but he has still garnered enough evidence to convince him that the way forward is to have all of his best footballers on the pitch at the same time – even if that means a switch in position at some. Jade Konkel therefore starts at loosehead instead of the back row, Hannah Smith is at blindside instead of centre, and Sarah Bonar is at No 8 instead of lock.
Those positional changes apart, it is a settled Scotland side which will travel to Colwyn Bay in search of a first away win in the tournament since 2006. Winger Liz Musgrove is the only uncapped player in the backs, while Megan Kennedy will win her first cap at tighthead. Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson, the squad’s two other Lille-based professionals besides Konkel, both start, while home-based pro Sarah Law is on the bench, with Jenny Maxwell preferred at scrum-half.
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“The continuity in the squad is testament to the performances and effort the players have put in over the season,” Munro said after naming his team. “But it’s about ensuring we have competition for places and our best players on the pitch. We had our most successful Six Nations for a number of years in 2017, so we are keen to kick on and keep improving across the park.”
Four forwards could make their debuts off the bench as Scotland try to back up last year’s narrow home win against Wales with another in Colwyn Bay: Siobhan McMillan, sister of openside flanker Louise; Siobhan Cattigan; Mags Lowish; and Jodie Rettie.
Wales coach Rowland Phillips, meanwhile, has named four uncapped players in his starting line-up, with another two on the bench. Winger Hannah Bluck, scrum-half Jade Knight, lock Natalia John and openside Beth Lewis are the four debutants in the 15, while Teleri Davies and Lisa Neumann are among the replacement forwards and backs respectively.
“We’ve got an average age of 24, so I expect these players to be pushing each other on for many years to come,” Phillips said. “It feels like a fresh start for Wales Women and we’re looking to play some good rugby against a strong Scotland side.”
Scotland (v Wales at Stadiwm Zip World, Colwyn Bay, Friday 6pm): C Rollie (Lille); E Musgrove (Edinburgh Uni), L Thomson (Lille), L Martin (DMP Sharks), R Lloyd (Edinburgh Uni); H Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers), J Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); J Konkel (Lille), R Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), M Kennedy (Stirling Co), E Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), D McCormack (Harlequins), H Smith, L McMillan (both Hillhead/Jordanhill), S Bonar (Loughborough Lightning). Substitutes: L Skeldon (Watsonians), S McMillan, L Smith (both Hillhead/Jordanhill), M Lowish (Loughborough Lightning) S Cattigan (Stirling Co and Uni), J Rettie (Thurrock), S Law (Edinburgh Uni/Murrayfield Wanderers), L Harris (Edinburgh Uni).
Wales: J Evans (Scarlets); H Bluck (Cardiff), K Lake (Ospreys), R de Filippo (Dragons), J Kavanagh-Williams (RGC); R Wilkins (Ospreys), J Knight (Scarlets); C Thomas (Scarlets), C Phillips (Ospreys), A Evans (Ospreys), N John (Ospreys), M Clay (Ospreys), A Butchers (Scarlets), B Lewis (Scarlets), S Lillicrap (Ospreys). Substitutes: K Jones (Ospreys), G Pyrs (RGC), C Hale (Dragons), T Davies (RGC), N Davies (Scarlets), R Parker (Cardiff), L George, L Neumann (both Scarlets).