RACHEL Malcolm and Chloe Rollie return to the Scotland line-up for Sunday’s Six Nations opener against Ireland, while Mairi McDonald makes her first start after coming off the bench in the 36-12 victory over Spain a fortnight ago.
McDonald replaces the injured Jenny Maxwell at scrum-half, captain Malcolm returns at blindside instead of Siobhan Cattigan, and Rollie takes over from Evie Tonkin at full-back. Cattigan and Tonkin are on the bench, where they are joined by Sarah Law, who will cover both scrum-half and stand-off and is also coming back after injury.
“It is great to have key players Chloe Rollie and Rachel Malcolm back in the starting squad,” head coach Philip Doyle said. “Evie Tonkin played well at full-back in Spain, but this is such a big game and Chloe’s experience will be invaluable. It is super to have Sarah Law back from injury. I am looking forward to her making a presence on the field when she comes on.”
The coach’s pleasure at being able to select Law, Rollie and Malcolm again has been tempered by the news that Maxwell will be out of action for around nine months as a result of the cruciate-ligament damage she sustained in that win against Spain. If the No 9’s recovery goes to plan, she could be back just in time for the World Cup qualifiers in the autumn.
“For us it’s terrible, for Jenny it’s worse,” Doyle added. “We’d like to think we’ll have her back for the qualifiers. It’s had a big impact on our squad. She played so well against Spain. But she’ll bounce back, because she has to.”
This will be the first time back at Donnybrook for Scotland since they pulled off a memorable win in 2018, and it will be a first Six Nations outing with the team for Doyle, who coached his native Ireland to a Grand Slam back on 2010. “It is going to be a great occasion for obvious reasons,” he added. “The squad are really up for it and love playing at Energia Park.
“They are champing at the bit to get going. They love the Six Nations and have a renewed focus this year. It is all on closing the gap on the other nations.”
Sarah Denholm and Christine Belisle drop out of the squad but are likely to return for future games in the Championship. Scotland’s first home game is a week on Sunday, when they welcome England to Scotstoun.
Scotland (v Ireland at Donnybrook, Sunday 1pm, live on BBC ALBA): Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park), Megan Gaffney (Watsonians); Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill); Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lana Skeldon (Darlington Mowden Park), Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars), Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), Sarah Bonar (Loughborough Lightning), Rachel Malcolm (captain, Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), Jade Konkel (Harlequins). Substitutes: Molly Wright (Watsonians), Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University/Watsonians), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park), Evie Tonkin (Darlington Mowden Park), Alex Wallace (Harrogate).