Women’s 6N: “The backline is coming along really well and will keep evolving,” says Coreen Grant

Gary Heatly

Coreen Grant, Scotland’s player of the match versus Wales, believes that the backline will only continue to improve under the guidance of the coaching team, especially assistant coach Matt Banahan.

The 37-year-old former England cap has built on the great work Chris Laidlaw did with the team’s attack early last year since he came into post last summer before the WXV 2 tournament in South Africa.

And the fact that the two tries Scotland scored last Saturday in Cardiff in their Guinness Women’s Six Nations opener were nominated for ‘try of the round’ shows the attacking mindset that the team has now.

Grant, the Saracens winger, scored the first try and Rhona Lloyd, the other winger, scored the second while for large chunks of the 20-18 triumph Scotland were on the front foot.

“Working with Matt has been great, obviously he was here for WXV 2 too and he is not that long out of his own playing career so he really gets it from a players perspective,” Grant, 26, said.

“He is also just a great character to have around camp.

“He has got a really good eye and at the moment he has been running some opposition plays for us so we can get used to playing them while he gets really stuck in at training so it is good.

“And playing-wise, we have really god depth now and we have lots of young guns coming through from Celtic Challenge and they are putting their hands right up and adding something different to training which is fantastic.

“The backline is coming along really well and will keep evolving.”

Having made her Scotland debut in 2021, Edinburgh-born Grant had to bide her time to earn cap number two and beyond, but she now has eight caps and three tries to her name and is in the best form of her career.

She has scored in the last two Test matches and her footwork, angles of running and evasion tactics are currently causing defences problems.

In her teens, her family moved to Los Angeles for three years, where she tried out American football.

Asked whether her time in that sport has helped her rugby down the line, she said:  “Maybe, who knows! I played one season at running back when I was living in the States, but if I am honest I think that was because there was no rugby and it was the closest thing I could get to it, but it was a lot of fun, it was with the boys and it was a good laugh. They said just throw your lot in and have a crack and it filled the gap when there was no rugby.

“Fast forward to now and our strength and conditioning programmes are tailored and whenever we are doing backs stuff or unit sessions these are things that I think about [footwork, angles of running and evasion tactics].

“I have always wanted to avoid contact if I can so it comes naturally to some extent.”

Next up for Scotland, who are now up to a record sixth in the world as they look to build on seven Test wins on the spin, is world number three France.

Scotland drew with them in 2020 at Scotstoun, but in general the French have had the upper hand in these contests of late before coming to Edinburgh Rugby’s Hive Stadium on Saturday.

“They are a very good side, one of the top teams in the world, but we are up to six as of this week and that is where we want to be, we want to be playing against the best teams,” Grant, a Scottish Rugby professionally contracted player who does some work as an environmental journalist away from the pitch, stated.

“Saturday is a really exciting opportunity for us off the back of all these wins to test ourselves against one of the best and we are really looking forward to it.

“Cardiff went really well I think there were huge positives both for me personally and from a team perspective. I really enjoyed the game and we really executed our game plan as we wanted to and we were happy with that.

“There are definitely things that we want to tighten up on from Cardiff such as a bit of accuracy which we have been working on this week to make sure we put out the best performance.”

Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the main image of Coreen Grant on route to her try versus Wales

During the Guinness Women’s Six Nations period through to the end of April, GH Media will be covering all aspects of women’s rugby in Scotland via reports, features and interviews…

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