Supersub Donna Rose changed the game against Ireland on Saturday, but it was her life that changed in January.
The Wales prop was one of twelve players to be handed a professional contract by the Welsh Rugby Union, allowing her to down tools as a carpenter and focus fully on her rugby career.
That switch to full-time rugby has paid immediate dividends for Wales, with Rose at the heart of a thrilling comeback win on the opening day of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Rose came on as a substitute with Wales trailing Ireland and 18 minutes on the clock. But two minutes later she crossed for the first of her two tries and nine minutes after that she completed an incredible turnaround to put Wales in the lead.
Wales lost 45-0 to Ireland a year ago but on Saturday they won 27-19 and Rose believes the future is bright.
The 30-year-old said: “Recovery is the important thing here, I was a carpenter before, so I was on the go.
“I live in Southampton, so I was on the go the whole time or driving, so now having that recovery time is the important thing for us, I think.
“I was more excited, had more belief, and was more rested. I have never had so much slept the night before a game than I did on Saturday, I was ready to rumble as soon as I woke up.
“Normally I would be at work during the day, last Six Nations for example, I was working and then having to come into training and stuff.
“But now I have time to do some analysing, look back on my game and look forward to the Scotland game.”
— TikTok Women’s Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) March 26, 2022
That Scotland game at Cardiff Arms Park will be in front of the loyal and vocal Welsh support, but Rose is not getting ahead of herself, challenging her side to back up their win over Ireland with another win.
“A good team can back it up, anyone can win a game, but backing it up, that will show where we are really,” said Rose.
“They (Scotland) are a formidable team, we know their strengths and we know their weaknesses as they do ours, so it’s going to be a really good game.
“I feel like it has clicked, I feel like it really did click at the weekend, but it is the start of the journey, and I feel like we are in it now, and we are all prepared to do everything that it takes to stay in there.
“Us Welshies we have that blood to fight don’t we.”
Rose felt different after the victory over Ireland, due to the presence of the crowd. And she believes that the squad’s togetherness is a big reason for their success.
She added: “It was a different feeling for me on Saturday, obviously it was only my seventh cap, and at first coming in it was a bit weird, it was Covid.
“We did not really have crowds, and then in the autumn we had crowds, which was an amazing atmosphere and feeling. And now we have contracts, and it was an actual different feeling for me on Saturday.
“I did not mind whether I started or was on the bench, I see us all as one to be honest. We are a team at the end of the day, not individuals and I think that is what won us the game on Saturday and that’s what will do us well in the Six Nations.”