Women’s 6N: Helen Nelson says “it is all coming together really nicely” ahead of tournament

Gary Heatly

This is “definitely” the strongest Scotland squad there has been in a number of years, says vice-captain Helen Nelson with the Guinness Women’s Six Nations about to get underway this weekend and a win record within sight.

From March 2022 to April 2023, Scotland lost 12 Test matches in a row before a turnaround occurred in round four of last year’s tournament.

The team defeated Italy and then build on that with a round five win over Ireland which has since been backed up by further victories over Spain, South Africa, USA and Japan.

Those last three wins saw Scotland lift the inaugural WXV 2 title in South Africa in October and, with the majority of the squad members now professional for a second year on the trot, expectations have heightened.

A positive result in Wales (4.45pm, live on BBC Sport) on Saturday would be Scotland’s seventh Test win on the spin and would break the record of six which is held at the moment by the 1997/ 98 squad and the current one.

When asked if the squad preparing for the trip to Cardiff is the strongest in recent times, 29-year-old stand-off Nelson said:  “Definitely. There are quite a few new faces and I think the young guns and the others coming in are really pushing us all on to be better.

“The blend in training has worked really well. We have plenty of experience and in the leadership group there are so many voices and so many people that want to lead by example.

“It is all coming together really nicely.

“The 12 losses were tough, but we were working hard and we were building through that time and I think the depth that we have now got coming through means that we are in a really good place.

“Being part of a losing team is so difficult because you are doing positive things, but are sometimes coming out on the wrong side by a couple of points then that review is really tough because everyone has to look at themselves.

“Coaches look at themselves, players do too and you almost question everything, but you have to take positives from each performance as much as you can and build on that.

“In terms of the six wins, it is incredible the confidence you can get from winning games, so we are looking to build on that and continue that streak.

“[In terms of what changed as the losing run became a winning one] I think just believing in ourselves and looking really hard at the losses and continuing to learn from those helped us.

“I think once you get those first couple of wins, which we really had to fight for and grind out, then winning breeds confidence and you can get on a roll.”

Scotland have found Wales a tough nut to crack in recent times and 55-times capped Nelson added ahead of the opener:  “We have very much just talked about focusing on ourselves this week.

“We want to get a good start to the tournament and we don’t want to focus on what has happened in the past against Wales. We want to very much look ahead and we know that if we concentrate on ourselves and put in a good performance then we will be happy with the end result.

“We know defensively it is going to be very important versus Wales, we don’t want them to get a rumble on and then build momentum. So, defence is going to be huge as is controlling the game. That is something we have worked on a lot over the last couple of years as we have built to get those wins, things like looking after ball, but also playing in the right areas of the field.

“I think game management is going to be huge for us on Saturday.

“In terms of the overall Six Nations, people have conversations in terms of expectations, but as a squad it is about focusing on the next performance and focusing on ourselves. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves at all. Yes, we have won the last six games, but I think we are still very aware how hard we had to fight for those, so all eyes are on Saturday just now.”

Thanks to N50 Photography for the image of Helen Nelson

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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