SCOTLAND have named a 32-strong squad for the 2017 Women’s Six Nations, which kicks-off against Ireland, with all three home fixtures being played at Broadwood Stadium.
Head coach Shade Munro is hoping an intense build-up will help his side overturn recent disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup after losing twice to Spain.
Munro said: “The Women’s Six Nations is a great platform to develop the squad and benchmark progress as we work towards closing the gap with world-class nations.
“We’ve added more training camps and competitive games this season to better prepare both the new and experienced players for the task ahead.
“The structures Scottish Rugby has put in place to support players and release their full potential are also making a difference and we took huge positives from our two matches against Spain in autumn.
“We competed for the whole 80 minutes in both games and developed our defence and attack. The players took confidence from that because they can see the improvement.
“In this tournament, our focus is really on us. There’s no doubt we have progressed in a number of areas, but there is a lot more we can do to improve.”
The team will take on English Premiership side Aylesford Bulls after a three-day training camp in London.
Four players who made their debut in the Rugby World Cup qualifiers against Spain in November remain in contention; flanker Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), forwards Sarah Bonar and Rachel Malcom (both Lichfield) and front-row Lucy Park (Murrayfield Wanderers).
Centres Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers) and Lisa Thomson (Edinburgh University) return to the mix following their debuts in last year’s Six Nations, alongside wing Rhona Lloyd (Edinburgh University).
Scottish Rugby’s first full-time female player Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill) is back from injury and is one of 13 BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players selected.
Captain Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), Tracy Balmer (Worcester), Heather Lockhart and Lindsey Smith (both Hillhead Jordanhill), will bring experience to the squad.
Following their opening game against Ireland, Scotland will host Wales on Friday 24 February (6.30pm) and Italy on Friday March 17 (6.30pm) as part of a series of double headers with the Scotland U20 team for the second successive year.
They will face France on Saturday February 11 in La Rochelle (8pm GMT) and England on Saturday March 11 at The Twickenham Stoop (1pm).
All 15 Women’s Six Nations games will be broadcast live on TV or online, with highlights also available on BBC.
Sheila Begbie, Scottish Rugby’s Head of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby, said: “We were encouraged by the numbers who turned out on a cold evening to watch Scotland Women take on Spain at Scotstoun in November.
“With three home games this year, Scotland Women are focused on building on progress made last year.
“We want to raise the profile of women’s rugby in Scotland and would love to see the stands full of supporters getting behind Scotland Women when they take on Ireland, Wales and Italy at Broadwood.”
Tickets are available HERE. Adult tickets £10 (valid for both matches), with free entry for senior citizens, U18 and Scotland season pass holders.
Scotland Women squad for the 2017 Women’s Six Nations
Tracy Balmer (Worcester)
Sarah Bonar (Lichfield)
Rachel Cook* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Katie Dougan (Edinburgh University)
Karen Dunbar* (RHC Cougars)
Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Jade Konkel** (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Rachel Malcolm (Lichfield)
Deborah McCormack (Aylesford Bulls)
Louise McMillan* (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Siobhan McMillan (Cartha Queens Park)
Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester)
Lucy Park* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Lana Skeldon (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Anna Stodter (Saracens)
Emma Wassell* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Caroline Collie (Bletchley Ladies)
Abi Evans (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Megan Gaffney (Edinburgh University)
Lauren Harris (Melrose)
Gillian Inglis (RHC Cougars)
Sarah Law* (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University)
Rhona Lloyd* (Edinburgh University)
Lisa Martin* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield)
Helen Nelson* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Chloe Rollie* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Eilidh Sinclair* (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Lisa Thomson* (Edinburgh University)
* BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 2 player 2016/17
** BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 player 2016/17
Scotland Women 2017 Six Nations Fixtures
Friday 3 February
Scotland Women v Ireland Women, Broadwood Stadium (kick-off 6.35pm)
Saturday 11 February
France Women v Scotland Women, Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle (kick-off 9pm local/8pm GMT)
Friday 24 February
Scotland Women v Wales Women, Broadwood Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm)
Saturday 11 March
England Women v Scotland Women, TheTwickenham Stoop (kick-off 1pm)
Friday 17 March
Scotland Women v Italy Women, Broadwood Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm)