W6Nations: seven uncapped players in Scotland training squad

Alex Stewart, Merryn Gunderson, Cieron Bell and Nicole Flynn all receive call-ups after impressing for Edinburgh during Celtic Challenge campaign

Merryn Gunderson - carrying the ball here for Edinburgh against Glasgow at the end of December - is one of seven uncapped players named Scotland's 6NWomen training squad. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Merryn Gunderson - carrying the ball here for Edinburgh against Glasgow at the end of December - is one of seven uncapped players named Scotland's 6NWomen training squad. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

BRYAN EASSON has named seven uncapped players in his 34 strong training squad for the 2024 W6Nations. The group will convene a training camp next Monday to begin the build-up towards the first game of the campaign away to Wales on 24th March.

Forwards Alex Stewart and Merryn Gunderson (both of Corstorphine Cougars) have earned their first call up to the senior squad, while University of Edinburgh duo Cieron Bell and Nicole Flynn have also been selected after impressing during the Celtic Challenge.

Scottish Qualified Leia Brebner-Holden, who has spent time playing in the Celtic Challenge with Edinburgh Rugby, and Megan Varley of Bristol Bears, also enter the squad for the first time. Both qualify through their sScottish born mothers.


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Fiona McIntosh returns to the training squad having travelled with Scotland to South Africa for WXV2. The lock has also recently featured in the Celtic Challenge for Edinburgh Rugby.

Josie Symonds –  formerly the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coach for Worcester Warriors Men’s team and Head of Performance for Worcester Warriors Women, who most recently worked for Exeter Chiefs Women leading their S&C programme – has joined the management team as as Head of Physical Performance.

“After our success in South Africa at WXV2, we are ready to push on with a Six Nations campaign and it’s exciting to be doing this with new faces to the squad and management team,” said Easson.

“The expansion of the Celtic Challenge has helped us identify a number of up-and-coming players who have showcased they deserve a chance to take the next step.

“It’s great to bring in a number of experienced players and those whose professional careers have been flourishing in the Allianz PWR. Lana Skeldon, Rachel Malcolm, Evie Gallagher and Eliann Clarke have all been real standouts in that competition, alongside newcomer Meg Varley. I’m looking forward to seeing this group challenge each other in the run up to the championship.”

 

 

Following on from the introduction of 28 professional contracts in December 2022, Scottish Rugby has confirmed 32 contracts have been agreed in the new cycle.

Of the 34-player training squad, 23 players have been awarded professional contracts, with four more granted to Jade Konkel (Harlequins), Liz Musgrove (Ealing Trailfinders), Evie Wills (Leicester Tigers) and Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning). Both Konkel and Musgrove are currently unavailable for Scotland duties through injury, whilst Wills works towards her return to play following a knee injury. Maxwell has recently made her comeback to the pitch after a 20-month long stint out through injury, and will continue building on her return with her club.

Beth Blacklock (Saracens) and Nikki Simpson (Garioch/Glasgow Warriors) have agreed ‘Development Contracts’ which are designed to allow them to train more often.

Shona Campbell, Rhona Lloyd and Lisa Thomson have accepted dual contracts with GB Sevens and Scottish Rugby, with release periods agreed for international XV duties.

 

 

Scotland Women Extended Training Squad –

Forwards

  • Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers)*
  • Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning)*
  • Sarah Bonar (Harlequins)*
  • Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears)*
  • Lisa Cockburn (Leicester Tigers)*
  • Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers)*
  • Evie Gallagher (Bristol Bears)*
  • Merryn Gunderson (Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby)**
  • Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning)*
  • Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers)*
  • Fiona McIntosh (Saracens)**
  • Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)*
  • Louise McMillan (Saracens)*
  • Lana Skeldon (Bristol Bears)*
  • Alex Stewart (Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby)**
  • Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)*
  • Molly Wright (Sale Sharks)*
  • Anne Young (Sale Sharks)*

Backs

  • Cieron Bell (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby)**
  • Beth Blacklock (Saracens)*
  • Leia Brebner-Holden (Gloucester-Hartpury/Cheltenham Tigers)**
  • Shona Campbell (GB 7s)*
  • Nicole Flynn (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby)**
  • Coreen Grant (Saracens)*
  • Caity Mattinson (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
  • Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs)*
  • Francesca McGhie (Leicester Tigers)*
  • Rhona Lloyd (GB 7s/ Stade Bordelais)*
  • Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)*
  • Emma Orr (Heriot’s Blues/Edinburgh Rugby)*
  • Lisa Thomson (GB 7s)*
  • Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning)*
  • Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears)*
  • Megan Varley (Bristol Bears)**

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About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.