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Malcolm returns to lead Scotland for Ireland curtain-raiser in Dublin

Malcolm returns to lead Scotland for Ireland curtain-raiser in Dublin

Scotland head coach Philip Doyle has tasked his side with closing the gap on the other nations after naming his starting XV for their opening Women’s Six Nations clash with Ireland.

Three changes have been made from the team that started the win against Spain two weeks ago as Rachel Malcolm returns from injury to captain the visitors at Energia Park, Donnybrook.

Full-back Chloe Rollie has also recovered to take the No.15 jersey while Mairi McDonald will start at scrum-half for what will only be her second cap for Scotland.

This follows the recent knee injury sustained by Jenny Maxwell, who is going to miss out on the Championship. Scotland stalwart Sarah Law has returned from her own injury to make the bench.

Lana Skeldon remains as hooker and she will be flanked by props Leah Bartlett and Mairi Forsyth; Emma Wassell and Sarah Bonar will bring their experience to the second-row again.

Elsewhere, Jade Konkel will be at No.8 and skipper Malcolm will resume her position from the Autumn Tests at blindside flanker with Rachel McLachlan at openside.

Helen Nelson is again selected at stand-off with Lisa Thomson and Hannah Smith in the centre and Rhona Lloyd and Megan Gaffney will be operating on the wing.

Scotland lost out to Ireland 22-5 in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations but the last time they travelled to Donnybrook they beat the hosts 15-12 in 2018.

Doyle said: “It is great to have key players Chloe Rollie and Rachel Malcolm back in the starting squad. 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.

“It is going to be a great occasion for obvious reasons. 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.”

Scotland Women team to face Ireland on Sunday at Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin (kick-off 1pm)

15. Chloe Rollie (Harlequins)
14. Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning)
13. Hannah Smith (Watsonians)
12. Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park)
11. Megan Gaffney (Watsonians)
10. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)
9. Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill)

1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning)
2. Lana Skeldon (Darlington Mowden Park)
3. Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars)
4. Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars)
5. Sarah Bonar (Loughborough Lightning)
6. Rachel Malcolm – captain (Loughborough Lightning)
7. Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park)
8. Jade Konkel (Harlequins)

Substitutes

16. Molly Wright (Watsonians)
17. Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University / Watsonians)
18. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park)
19. Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County)
20. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill)
21. Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park)
22. Evie Tonkin (Darlington Mowden Park)
23. Alex Wallace (Harrogate RFC)