WXV 2: “I love the way they drive each other on,” says Bryan Easson about “quality” nines McDonald and Mattinson

Gary Heatly

Every good rugby squad needs two strong scrum-halves these days and Scotland are lucky in that regard currently with both Mairi McDonald and Caity Mattinson on good form.

McDonald, the 25-year-old from Glasgow who now plays for Exeter Chiefs, has been in and around the Scotland set up since her debut in early 2020 and now has 17 caps to her name.

She has been the starter in the WXV 2 matches in South Africa of late with Caity Mattinson, the 27-year-old who previously played for England before switching allegiance to the country in which she was born, an able replacement from the bench.

The latter also has 17 caps to her name and has been around the squad since early 2022.

“They are never far away from each other, they work well together, they analyse things together, they train together and they work on their extras together.

“When they are fighting each other for a starting position, but they are that close on and off the field I think it shows the culture that we now have in this group. Caity is obviously disappointed to be on the bench, but conversely she is delighted for Maz to be starting and everything they do is to help the team.

“They help each other work on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they push each other and I think that has got the best out of them both and made them better all-round players.

“Maz has started the games in WXV 2 very well, I thought in the first half against USA last week we managed the pitch really well and that was down to her and Helen Nelson at 10, but in that game and the week before against South Africa there has been no drop off when Caity and Meryl Smith have come on, they just give us a different way to play.

“We are really lucky to have two quality nines and I love the way they drive each other on.”

The national team’s victory over USA last Friday in Cape Town 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 the Athlone Sports Stadium, Italy are ahead of Scotland on points difference and the former play USA on Saturday, so it is all to play for.

“To win a trophy would be an amazing achievement for this group,” Easson added.

“It would however be the icing on the cake rather than the thing we are focusing on at this moment, the big thing for us is getting a victory against Japan.

“If we get the processes right against Japan then the outcome will take care of itself.

“If we do our job on Friday then we can sit back and watch what happens between Italy and USA on Saturday with real interest.”

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 Rugby People for the photo of Mairi McDonald and Scottish Rugby for the photo of Caity Mattinson