Scotland v Italy: Jade Konkel-Roberts moves to lock

Mairi McDonald, Meryl Smith and Coreen Grant all come into a remodelled back division for the TikTok Women's Six Nations match

Jade Konkel-Roberts
Jade Konkel-Roberts has been selected at lock for Scotland's home game against Italy. Image: © Craig Watson

JADE Konkel-Roberts – normally a No 8 – has been moved to the second row as Scotland search for a formula that they hope will end a 12-game losing run when they take on Italy tomorrow.  Konkel-Roberts, who has also played at prop and on the flank over the course of her international career, only came back from a knee injury in last weekend’s 55-0 defeat by France –  Scotland’s third loss in this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

The Harlequins forward takes over from Lyndsay O’Donnell, who drops out of the squad, while Rachel McLachlan is promoted to the starting line-up and Evie Gallagher switches from openside to No 8.

In other changes from that loss in Vannes, Mairi McDonald starts at scrum-half instead of Caity Mattinson and Meryl Smith is at centre in place of the injured Emma Orr, with Lisa Thomson switching from 12 to 13. Fran McGhie, who was also injured against the French, has recovered and retains the No 14 jersey, while Coreen Grant – an early replacement for McGhie last week – starts on the right.

Stand-off Helen Nelson will be winning her 50th cap.

“We’ve made a couple of changes following the game against France as there is an opportunity for us to shake it up a little bit,” head coach Bryan Easson said. “One of the changes is bringing Jade Konkel-Roberts into the second row. She returned to the team last weekend and she worked incredibly hard in the 45 minutes that she played, so bringing her into that position this weekend gives us an extra ball-carrying option.

“Emma Orr sustained a concussion in France last weekend so we’ve moved Lisa Thomson to outside centre and brought Meryl Smith off the bench to partner her in the midfield. It’s a really exciting back division this weekend and we are looking forward to seeing what they can produce.

“Clearly we are not happy with the result last weekend and there are one or two aspects we are looking to tighten up on, but the squad have worked really hard to get back into the mindset of preparing for the next match in quite a tight turnaround.

“We are aware Italy play quite like France in terms of that open, expansive attacking style of play, so we’ve looked at a couple of areas to combat that.”

Scotland (v Italy at the DAM Health Stadium, Saturday 4.45pm): C Rollie; C Grant, L Thomson, M Smith, F McGhie; H Nelson, M McDonald; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, J Konkel-Roberts, L McMillan, R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan, E Gallagher. Substitutes: J Rettie, A Young, E Clarke, E Donaldson, E Sinclair, C Mattinson, B Blacklock, E Musgrove.

About Stuart Bathgate 1427 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.