BRYAN Easson has had to reshuffle his Scotland squad for tomorrow’s TikTok Six Nations game against Wales after several players tested positive for Covid. The head coach has made four changes to his line-up from the team that began last week’s defeat by England, with Chloe Rollie, Hannah Smith and Rachel McLachlan dropping out of the 23 altogether.
Shona Campbell, Emma Orr and Evie Gallagher replace those three at full-back, centre and openside respectively, with Campbell coming in for her first start and Orr making her debut. The fourth change to the 15 is the expected return at lock of Sarah Bonar, who missed the England match because of RAF duties. She takes over from Louise McMillan, who drops down to the bench, while Eva Donaldson drops out of the squad.
Anne Young, Evie Wills, Molly Wright, Sarah Law and Lisa Cockburn are all listed as unavailable along with Rollie, Smith and McLachlan. Cockburn suffered a knee injury in the England match, but none of the others is known to be carrying an injury.
“We have a number of players unavailable for selection this week due to illness and Covid,” head coach Easson said. “However, we have some exciting young players amongst the squad and it’s hugely important to give those players opportunities to experience test match rugby against some formidable opponents, particularly in a World Cup year.
“Emma has trained particularly well since she joined us at the start of the year and has fully deserved her place in the starting line-up this weekend. She has previously shown us her potential during her time with the Scotland 7s squad, before being selected in the extended GB Sevens training squad last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing her make her debut.”
On the bench, McMillan, who has 32 caps, heads a reasonably experienced group of forwards replacements. Jodie Rettie comes in as replacement hooker for Wright, while Panashe Muzambe is the loosehead substitute in place of Cockburn.
The three backs replacements, however – Caity Mattinson, Meryl Smith and Coreen Grant – only have one Scotland cap apiece. Scrum-half Mattinson does have international experience through her previous appearances for England before she swapped allegiances earlier this year, but ideally a back such as Law would be on hand to steady the ship if required.
As it is, Law must wait at least another week before winning her 50th cap. Hooker Lana Skeldon, however, will celebrate the landmark on Saturday.
“It was brilliant to see Jade Konkel receive her 50th cap at the DAM Health Stadium [against England] and I’m delighted that Lana is also in line for her 50th appearance this Saturday,” Easson added. “Lana is an incredibly committed individual and has been an integral part of this squad for over a decade now.”
The Wales team is unchanged from the side that beat Ireland in Dublin last week. “The selection certainly rewards the team’s performance last weekend,” head coach Ioan Cunningham said.
“Those players deserve another chance to perform and express themselves in front of their family, friends, and a big home crowd on Saturday. We saw some huge performances across the park from Donna Rose’s two tries to Hannah Jones’ score that finished off the game and Alisha Butchers winning Player of the Round.”
Scotland (v Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday 4.45pm): S Campbell; R Lloyd, E Orr, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson, J Maxwell; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, S Bonar, R Malcolm (captain), E Gallagher, J Konkel. Substitutes: J Rettie, P Muzambe, K Dougan, L O’Donnell, L McMillan, C Mattinson, M Smith, C Grant.
Wales: K Powell; L Neumann, H Jones, K Lake, J Joyce; E Snowsill, K Bevan; G Pyrs, C Phillips, C Hale, N John, G Crabb, A Butchers, A Callender, S Lillicrap (captain). Substitutes: K Jones, C Hope, D Rose, S Harries, B Lewis, F Lewis, R Wilkins, S Tuipulotu.
Good luck on Saturday. Even with the enforced changes should be a good contest.