Scotland Women kick-off their opening match in the Women’s Six Nations Championship with a team reflecting a mix of maturity, new faces and the experience gained through playing a summer of sevens.
Eagerly anticipating their opening fixture against England (Saturday 2 February, at Esher, kick-off 2pm), head coach Karen Findlay said: “Scotland against England always has that added edge and it’ll be a really good opportunity to see how our training has progressed, how our squad has developed and be an exciting start to the 2013 campaign.”
The campaign warmed-up with a training game against the British Army ten days ago, played in blizzard conditions, Scotland edging the opposition 10-5 on the night.
"It’ll be a really good opportunity to see how our training has progressed, how our squad has developed."
Findlay said: “It was really important our players had the chance to trial some things we’ve been practising in training and from a coaching perspective, it was a great opportunity for us to try out some of the combinations we wanted to look at in terms of our front five, back row and midfield.”
Making her debut in the Scotland jersey is Bridget Millar-Mills, alongside fellow lock Lindsay Wheeler who makes her 53rd appearance for her country,
Welcomed back into the starting XV is winger Annabel Sergeant, after a season out and experience gained while playing for the national women’s sevens squad. She lines up alongside fellow sevens team members Steph Johnston (full-back), Sarah Dixon (outside centre), Megan Gaffney (wing), Louise Dalgliesh (scrum half), Tess Forsberg (openside flanker) and Susie Brown (no 8) who, once again, captains the squad.
Meanwhile prop Heather Lockhart wins her 59th cap, having made her Scotland debut in November 2004. Sarah Quick retains her place at hooker with Tracey Balmer returning at tight-head. Mary Lafaiki, at blindside, makes her first start for Scotland after six appearances as substitute.
Newcomers to the squad, on the bench, are Becca Parker, Jade Konkel, Sarah Law and Leanne Neary. While Becca, daughter of former Scotland B forward Hugh, honed her early skills by continuing to play through university, Jade, Sarah and Leanne have developed their game through Scotland Women’s age grade programme. Sarah, who turned 18 last month, was first capped for Scotland Women 7s in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 7s qualifier in Moscow in June 2012, just days after leaving school.
Watch head coach Karen Findlay talk about preparations for the game
15 Steph Johnston RHC Cougars
14 Annabel Sergeant Richmond
13 Sarah Dixon RHC Cougars
12 Lisa Ritchie Carlisle
11 Megan Gaffney Hillhead Jordanhill
10 Tanya Griffith RHC Cougars
9 Louise Dalgliesh RHC Cougars
1 Heather Lockhart Hillhead Jordanhill
2 Sarah Quick Murrayfield Wanderers
3 Tracey Balmer Worcester RFC
4 Lindsay Wheeler Richmond
5 Bridget Millar-Mills Worcester RFC
6 Mary Lafaiki Hillhead Jordanhill
7 Tess Forsberg Richmond
8 Susie Brown (c) Richmond
16 Beth Dickens Murrayfield Wanderers
17 Suzanne McKerlie-Hex Murrayfield Wanderers
18 Lindsey Smith Hillhead Jordanhill
19 Becca Parker Hillhead Jordanhill
20 Jade Konkel Hillhead Jordanhill
21 Sarah Law Murrayfield Wanderers
22 Leanne Neary Murrayfield Wanderers
23 Lauren Harris Melrose
Friday 18 January Scotland 10 - 5 The Army (training game)
Saturday 2 February Scotland v England Esher, Surrey k/o 2pm
Sunday 10 February Scotland v Italy Mayfield, Dundee k/o2pm (free admission)
Saturday 23 February Scotland v Ireland Lasswade k/o 2pm (free admission)
Sunday 10 March Scotland v Wales Scotstoun k/o 2pm (free admission)
Friday 15 March Scotland v France Dijon k/o 7pm