SCOTLAND coach Bryan Easson has rung the changes ahead of Saturday’s match against Italy, making six alterations in personnel and several positional swaps from the side that began the defeat by France. One of those changes is an enforced one, as Jade Konkel has been ruled out of this game and next week’s fixture in Ireland by injury, but on the whole Easson has been able to select an experienced side.
The choice of Sarah Law at stand-off is the clearest indication of the attitude that Easson is looking for as he aims to bring a run of three defeats in the TikTok Six Nations to an end. Acknowledged by her peers as the most knowledgeable member of the squad, Law should bring a composure to the team that has been lacking at times in their previous outings against England, Wales and France.
Scrum-half Caity Mattinson comes in for her first start in a Scotland jersey since switching allegiances from England earlier this year, while the third personnel change to the back division sees Shona Campbell named on the wing. Helen Nelson and Lisa Thomson both move out one position to accommodate Law, while Hannah Smith drops down to the bench.
Up front, Molly Wright, more often a hooker, starts at loosehead, while Emma Wassell returns at lock and Rachel McLachlan comes into the back row. Evie Gallagher moves from openside to No 8 to make way for McLachlan.
“We’ve made a few changes to the starting team, which reflects the depth that we are looking to build, but it also shows the positive growth of this group,” Easson said. “The players have really been pushing each other for places during training this week, which is really pleasing to see ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
“Unfortunately, Jade Konkel has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament through injury, but it does present that opportunity to others in such an important year. With two away games remaining, we want to close out our campaign with more clinical and composed performances against Italy and Ireland. We know that Italy typically play from deep within their territory and kick less than most teams in the tournament so we know what to expect and have prepared accordingly.”
Easson also revealed that Lisa Cockburn, who injured a knee against England, will miss out on the World Cup as she continues her rehabilitation. It was already known that the prop would be sidelined for the rest of the Six Nations.
“She did her ACL and will be on a long-term rehab,” he added. “She’s a determined lady who wants to get back with the squad as soon as she can.”
Scotland (v Italy at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Saturday, 7.20pm UK time): C Rollie; R Lloyd, L Thomson, H Nelson, S Campbell; S Law, C Mattinson; M Wright, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, S Bonar, R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan, E Gallagher. Substitutes: J Rettie, L Bartlett, K Dougan, L McMillan, A Young, J Maxwell, H Smith, M Gaffney.
Italy: M Furlan (captain); A Muzzo, M Sillari, B Rigoni, M Magatti; V Madia, S Stefan; M Bettoni, V Vecchini, L Gai, V Fedrighi, G Duca, B Veronese, I Arrighetti, E Giordano. Substitutes: S Turani, G Maris, M Merlo, S Tounesi, I Locatelli, S Barattin, A D’Inca, V Minuzzi.