Women’s 6N: Talented young playmaker Meryl Smith is growing in confidence and is ready to kick on with Scotland

Gary Heatly

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson has made clear his desire to give young players a chance during the upcoming TikTok Women’s Six Nations – and one player who is ready to make the step up and be involved more regularly is playmaker Meryl Smith.

The 21-year-old, who is in her fourth and final year of a biological sciences degree at the University of Edinburgh, can play stand-off or centre and has now been around this environment for a while.

She first got capped for Scotland Sevens just after completing her Advanced Highers at Edinburgh Academy in 2019 and now has four full XVs caps under her belt and was part of the Rugby World Cup squad late last year.

Anyone who has seen the Commonwealth Games athlete from Birmingham 2022 play over the last 12 months in sevens or XVs will have seen that she is an intelligent rugby player with good feet and good passing skills.

And recently she was given a leadership role with the Thistles during the Celtic Challenge and did a very good job, playing especially well in the final game against the Irish Combined Provinces XV at the DAM Health Stadium last month.

The Scotland matchday 23 to face England in their tournament opener on Saturday in Newcastle is due to be named on Thursday and it would be a surprise not to see her in there.

“I’m definitely a lot more experienced now and experience is invaluable, just putting yourself up against some of the best teams in the world gives you a lot more confidence and belief in yourself,” the player who spent some of her youth in the Netherlands said.

“I’ve played a lot more rugby in the last year and playing in the Celtic Challenge has given me a bit more confidence in taking up a leadership role. I think that’s quite important when you are playing 10 or playing in the midfield that you are able to boss everyone about.

“I feel more confident this year, definitely, and just want to to build into it.

“Looking back, 2022 was a pretty incredible year for me all round. There were lots of really amazing experiences and I was just trying to make sure that I savoured each one, made the most of them and got as much knowledge and experience as I could out of each one.

“The World Cup was amazing, but straight away it was like, ‘what can we do to put ourselves in a better position come the next one [in 2025]?’

“It’s really nice, having played with some of them through the age grades, that we [a batch of young players] are coming up together [with Scotland]. It’s nice to have experiences together and it just shows that the next level of age-grade rugby in Scotland is really developing quickly and [we are] pushing the older girls.

“Having young girls coming in makes sure that everyone is really competing for their slot in the team which I think is good for the squad as a whole.”

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for comprehensive coverage of all things Scotland throughout the TikTok Women’s Six Nations…

Thanks to Rugby People for the image of Meryl playing for the Thistles which is included within this feature