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Scotland team for Italy RWC Europe Qualifier opener

Scotland team for Italy RWC Europe Qualifier opener

Scotland celebrate

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson has called on his players to embrace the challenge ahead after naming his team to face Italy in their Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier opener.

Hooker Lana Skeldon packs down alongside Leah Bartlett and Christine Belisle in the front row while Emma Wassell links up with Sarah Bonar in the second-row.

Captain Rachel Malcolm joins Louise McMillan and Jade Konkel to form a formidable back-row, with Jenny Maxwell continuing her half-back partnership with Helen Nelson.

Lisa Thomson and Hannah Smith are paired together in the centres, with the players retaining their places in the starting XV from the side’s last outing back in April.

Malcolm returns to lead Scotland for RWC Europe qualifiers

An experienced back-three sees Chloe Rollie start at full-back with Rhona Lloyd and Megan Gaffney selected on the wings.

Easson said: “The squad have worked tirelessly over the past year to get to this point but we know that this group of players will fully embrace the challenge ahead and will give it everything on the pitch.

“I’ve been really encouraged by the level of work and detail that the full squad has produced in camp this week and the focus now is to keep believing in ourselves.

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“We know that the game against Italy is of vital importance to qualification chances and we’ll be looking to deliver a full 80-minute performance tomorrow.”

The match is the first of three to decide who will play in next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with the second match against Spain to be played six days later on 19 September.

Scotland’s final match of the tournament will see them take on Ireland on Saturday 25 September (kick-off 5pm BST / 6pm local time).

The winner of the tournament will qualify as Europe 1 and join Canada and USA in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup with the runner-up earning a further opportunity to qualify via the Final Qualification Tournament.

Scotland team to face Italy:

15. Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs) – 40 caps
14. Rhona Lloyd (Les Lionness Du Stade Bordelais) – 28 caps
13. Hannah Smith (Watsonians) – 26 caps
12. Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks) – 35 caps
11. Megan Gaffney (Heriot’s) – 17 caps
10. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning) – 32 caps
9. Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning) – 32 caps
1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning) – 7 caps
2. Lana Skeldon (Unattached) – 43 caps
3. Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park) – 7 caps
4. Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning) – 47 caps
5. Sarah Bonar (Harlequins) – 22 caps
6. Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning) CAPTAIN – 19 caps
7. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill) – 26 caps
8. Jade Konkel (Harlequins) – 44 caps

Replacements:

16. Molly Wright (Watsonians) – 5 caps
17. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park) – 18 caps
18. Katie Dougan (Hillhead Jordanhill) – 13 caps
19. Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks) – 19 caps
20. Evie Gallagher (Stirling County) – 3 caps
21. Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill) – 6 caps
22. Sarah Law (Sale Sharks) – 43 caps
23. Liz Musgrove (Unattached) – 10 caps