WXV 2: Chloe Rollie will summon up all of her strength to help get Scotland the result they desire on Friday

Gary Heatly

Chloe Rollie is set to win her 61st cap for Scotland on Friday against Japan and, give the circumstances, it could be one of the most important ones to date.

The national team’s victory over USA last Friday in South Africa was Scotland’s fifth in a row and second in the WXV 2 tournament.

In 2001 the team went on to win six Tests on the spin – and the current crop know that if they can do the same by beating Japan then they will be right in the mix for the inaugural WXV 2 title.

Heading into the last round of WXV 2 action in Cape Town, Italy are ahead of Scotland on points difference and the former play USA on Saturday, so it is all to play for.

The five wins – against Italy and Ireland in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, against Spain in an Autumn Test and then against South Africa and here – has propelled this generation of players and Scotland to new heights.

Rollie, the 28-year-old from Jedburgh, said:  “The five wins is definitely a boost to the team and it has given us belief that we can keep winning back-to-back games and not just easier ones, but tough games as all five that we have won recently have been tough.

“It just shows that we now have consistency in how we play while we are now much better at working out how we find wins in different circumstances.

“We have been used to having isolated wins here and there, but this kind of run gives us a track to follow now and it means we have a bounce heading into the next game and there are real positive vibes around the place.”

Having been involved with Scotland since 2015, Rollie admits the feeling on and off the pitch has never been as good as it is now.

“Over the years with the foundations that we have built and the players we have kept the culture within the group has just grown and grown and it is different to when I first got involved in 2015,” the Loughborough Lightning player who has scored 19 international tries explained.

“We have built massive connections with each other on and off the pitch and the connections are really strong and you can tell when we take to the pitch that everyone has each other’s backs.

“We all want to do well for each other and the chats Rach [Malcolm, the skipper] has with us just before matches always emphasise just how together we are as a squad – management included as well – and that culture has a massive influence on us and how we perform.

“This is a special time to be involved in Scottish women’s rugby, 100 percent.

“It is huge for us and if we can keep up our good form and win the tournament come the weekend then hopefully it’ll leave a legacy behind and allow younger girls and boys to look up to us and make them want to play rugby the way we do.

“The culture within the squad has grown so much, we have built and built and built and the way we have bounced back [from 12 defeats in a row in 2022 and earlier this year] shows the character we have.”

Before Scotland can think of winning a trophy they have to get the better of Japan who are a good side in their own right as they showed by coming back from a WXV 2 loss in week one to Italy to defeat Samoa 32-10 with a bonus point last Saturday.

Indeed, apart from Italy and Scotland, it is still mathematically possible that Japan or USA could top the standings come Saturday night, so everyone is focused.

“Japan always come out all guns blazing and they have threats all over the pitch,” Rollie said of the opposition.

They are very fast and they are also physical and smart. Every game that we’ve played against Japan we’ve never been sure what’s going to happen and what they’ll bring, so we will take nothing for granted.

“Their style of play keeps us on our toes and we really just have to focus on ourselves whilst being aware of their threats.”

Finally, while Scotland are going for a trophy this weekend so too are South Africa’s men who take on New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final in Paris on Saturday evening.

“It’s crazy, after South Africa beat England on Saturday night [in the semi-final] we were in our hotel rooms because it was quite late at night over here and all you could hear for a good half an hour was the cars peeping their horns as everyone was so excited,” Rollie said of the support for the Springboks in France from afar.

“Earlier that day all of the waiting staff and people in shops had the South Africa tops on so I imagine the atmosphere will crank up again this Saturday night when the final against New Zealand is on and it’ll be cool to be here for that.”

The starting XV for the match is unchanged while fit-again duo Sarah Bonar and Coreen Grant have joined the bench.

Scotland versus Japan: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie; Helen Nelson, Mairi McDonald; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher. Subs: Elis Martin, Anne Young, Lisa Cockburn, Sarah Bonar, Jade Konkel, Caity Mattinson, Meryl Smith, Coreen Grant.

Scotland versus Japan will be live here on Friday at 1pm UK time

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for Scotland women’s coverage through to the end of WXV 2 in October…

Thanks to Scottish Rugby for the photo of Chloe Rollie in the gym – she is also pictured up Table Mountain from her own Instagram account