Scotland No.8 Evie Gallagher says the squad will “leave it all out there on the pitch” against Japan on Friday as they bid to keep their WXV 2 title charge alive.
The Scots have won their first two matches in the tournament in South Africa with bonus points, but currently trail Italy by points difference at the top of the standings as +24 plays +31.
With Italy not playing their final game in Cape Town until Saturday against USA, Scotland have to put down a marker at the Athlone Sports Stadium on Friday with, all being well, a bonus point triumph which boosts their points difference significantly.
They will then have to wait and see what Italy do and ahead of the Japan game 23-year-old Gallagher said: “We want to put together the best performance that we can, we want to play our best rugby of the tournament so far, we want to put a full 80 minute performance out there and we will leave it all out there on the pitch.
“We can’t focus on a certain number of points, we just have to play the way we can and the win comes first before anything else.”
Just before the Rugby World Cup last year, Gallagher was injured and missed the showpiece event.
Instead of being down in the dumps about it she used the layoff to come back stronger and in 2023 she has been one of the team’s standout performers and a regular starter.
“It  has been great,” the Stirling County-reared product who will win cap number 22 versus Japan explained.
“It sounds weird, but I have almost forgotten that I missed the World Cup because this year has been so good and I have enjoyed it so much.
“Missing the World Cup was kind of a blessing in disguise because the layoff has helped me become the player I have become since coming back. I don’t think I’d be the player I am now without the injury which gave me something to bounce back from and gave me real focus.
“When I was injured I ended up watching way more rugby that I ever had watched before which meant that coming back into things my knowledge and awareness was greater from that.
“The break gave me a different perspective on things.”
In South Africa, Gallagher has been starting games in the back-row with skipper Rachel Malcolm and Rachel McLachlan while Jade Konkel has been coming off the bench.
“I think we are quite tight as a four, we always talk about how much we love to be back-rows,” Gallagher, who was named Mastercard player of the match last time out against USA, joked.
“We are all really keen to help each other develop as players and as people and whenever we want to work on something we help each other out which is cool.
“We all went the best for each other.
“Individually this year I have worked more closely with [assistant coach] Tyrone Holmes too just trying to get insight into being a back-row and the way he sees me playing in relation to how he used to play.
“We all talk to him a lot about how we need to work defensively off scrums and the ways he wants us to defend and I think he is really open to making us the best we can be while developing and building from there.”
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 World Rugby for the photo of Evie Gallagher receiving her Mastercard player of the match award versus USA