WXV 2: “Nels is unreal,” says Lisa Thomson with stand-off Helen Nelson set to be key against South Africa

Gary Heatly

Lisa Thomson has been restored to the number 12 jersey for Scotland’s WXV 2 opener with South Africa on Friday afternoon and she will be alongside a familiar face at 10.

Thomson, 26, and stand-off and vice-captain Helen Nelson, 29, have played rugby together since their university days and they both have 52 caps for their country and are now experienced campaigners.

In any rugby team the stand-off is key and Nelson will be an important figure at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch just outside Cape Town this time around.

The playmaker seems to have taken her game to another level in the last 18 months or so and Thomson said:  “Nels is unreal.

“Her game management has improved so much over the last few years, she’ll say it herself and she has worked so hard at it.

“Her kicking game that gets us into the right area of the park to play in is very good and she can just see a lot of what is going out there on the pitch.

“Years ago when we were playing at 10 and 12 together we felt like little kids out there trying to work together at international level, but we have grown up together as players and, as I say, Nels’ game management has come on leaps and bounds and it gives everyone around her confidence when she is in the form she is in right now.

“It will be key to play in the right areas of the park against South Africa and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Scotland are looking for a fourth Test win on the spin here, but GB Seven player Thomson knows the size of the task ahead.

“South Africa on home soil will be a huge challenge for us, but it is one that we are excited for,” she said.

“We played against them a couple of times back in 2019 when we were last on tour, so we know what we are in for against them and they have come on since that time.

“It is a huge opportunity for us to play South Africa on their home turf and I’m sure the South African supporters will be cheering them on, so we just have to concentrate on our game and what we can bring to things.

“We are prepared for a hugely physical challenge and we just can’t wait to get going now.

“Over the last year or so since the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand the big thing that has developed is the depth in the squad.

“There are 30 players out here now and anyone could start and do a job and there are other players injured at home or ones who aren’t selected who can also play at this level.

“That gives everyone confidence and pushes us all on.”

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

Scotland versus South Africa will be live here on Friday at 3.30pm 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 Mark Brown/Rugby People for the photo of Helen Nelson and Lisa Thomson