SCOTLAND coach Philip Doyle has named three uncapped players in his 26-woman squad for the two-Test series in South Africa, and has also given the tour captaincy to Helen Nelson. Hillhead Jordanhill prop Anne Young, No 8 Christine Belisle of Cartha Queen’s Park and Biggar stand-off Sarah Denholm are the three newcomers to the squad, while some established names such as Lisa Martin and Annabelle Sergeant have been omitted this time.
“I saw Anne in the 20s squad last month and was very impressed with her, being a very young prop,” said Doyle, for whom the double-header in South Africa will be his first games in charge of the national side since taking over from Shade Munro earlier this year. “I asked her to come into the first camp, just on a visitor basis, to see how she would get on with the level. And she did extremely well – she blended in incredibly quickly.
“She fitted in perfectly to the scrums as well. She was out of her depth at times in small things, but in sessions she was well up to the level. So I decided why not bring her and give her a little bit of experience.
“Christine is originally from Canada and has just qualified. She brings a lot of physicality to her game – that was the first thing we noticed. We were very, very impressed with her contact and also her set-piece play.
“And Sarah has been on our radar for quite a while and she is without doubt a girl for the future at 10. We can genuinely see Sarah playing for Scotland in the future, especially when it comes around to the 2021 World Cup. So again we’re looking for her getting experience down in South Africa.”
While Martin and Sergeant have been left out of what is a relatively small tour squad, Doyle explained that they and others were not being discarded, and that some of them would feature in the two home games to come later this year. “Lisa is just not travelling this time,” he continued. “We want to bring Sarah on, and as we’re looking at Helen as an out-half this time Lisa didn’t make it.
“Annabel didn’t make the cut this time, and it was a very, very close call. We had cover at winger and full-back: it was a numbers game. But without doubt she is a player that we will be using come into the Autumn Internationals.
“She will get her chance, as other players will. We’re travelling with 26 this time. Thankfully the standard is going up.”
Scotland squad for tour to South Africa:
Forwards: Christine Belisle (Cartha Queen’s Park), Sarah Bonar (Loughborough Lightning), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Jade Konkel (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Panashe Muzambe (Watsonians), Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Lana Skeldon (Darlington Mowden Park), Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougar), Anne Young (Hillhead Jordanhill).
Backs: Sarah Denholm (Biggar), Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park), Megan Gaffney (Watsonians), Mhairi Grieve (Waterloo Firwood), Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park), Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning), Liz Musgrove (Darlington Mowden Park), Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Chloe Rollie (Harlequins), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park).
Mon 30 September: South Africa v Scotland (Athlone, 3pm).
Sat 5 October: South Africa v Scotland (Athlone, 1pm).
Sun 17 November: Scotland v Wales (Scotstoun, 3.10pm).
Sun 24 November: Scotland v Japan (Scotstoun 2pm).