Bryan Easson hopes blast of the horn will make Scotland fast starters

Bryan Easson hopes sounding the horn in training will shake his Scotland players out of their torpor when they face Wales at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Scotland scrum-half Jenny Maxwell returns to the starting XV after a serious knee injury. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
Scotland scrum-half Jenny Maxwell returns to the starting XV after a serious knee injury. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

The Scots have been slow starters in both their previous Women’s Six Nations games this season and it has cost them dearly.

Defeats against England and Italy mean the home game against the Welsh is a wooden spoon decider.

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Easson has worked on sharpening up his squad in a bid to rid them of their tendency to begin games sluggishly.

“We’ve done a lot of scenario based stuff this week, where we’ve gone from parts of sessions and we’ve been using an air-horn,” the coach explained.

“We’ve just been playing with their minds a bit rather than doing attacking sessions with their heads on attack and defence sessions with their heads on defence, it’s all about just changing mindset a little bit. Magic formula? I’ll tell you on Saturday night.

“Last week against Italy where we struggled was transition, going from defence to attack or vice versa, and I think that’s a lot to do with the first 20 minutes, switching on at the right times for specific things. It has been addressed and we’ll see on Saturday.”

Easson admits using the air-horn is a bit of a gimmick but it has worked in the past.

“If we’re doing a handling drill or speed contact, as soon as the air-horn goes they run straight into a five man lineout, wherever the ball is, they’ll run from whatever they’re doing into an attack drill or a defence drill.

“There’s little gimmicks, I’ve done it before with games and found success with it. We’ve done it previously but we thought this week was the time to bring it back again. We’ve worked on technicalities and on individual players but this week we felt the time was right to put a little more pressure on our training.”

Easson has rung the changes for the match in Glasgow.

Christine Belisle returns at loosehead prop in place of Leah Bartlett, who drops to the bench, and there are four changes in the backs.

Jenny Maxwell makes her first start of the campaign, coming in for Mairi McDonald at scrum-half after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.

She will be partnered at half-back by Helen Nelson who return to stand-off from inside centre, with Sarah Law among the replacements.

Hannah Smith is back in the side after missing the Italy game while with the Great Britain sevens squad. Smith slots in at outside centre, with Lisa Thomson moved from 13 to 12.

“It’s great to see Jenny Maxwell back,” said Easson. “She has been out for a long time with her ACL and when she came on against Italy she brought a little more tempo to the game which is exactly how we want to play against the Welsh anyway.”

Scotland (v Wales, Women’s Six Nations, Scotstoun, Saturday, 5pm, live on BBC Scotland)

15. Chloe Rollie; 14. Liz Musgrove, 13. Hannah Smith, 12. Lisa Thomson, 11. Megan Gaffney; 10. Helen Nelson (c), 9. Jenny Maxwell; 1. Christine Belisle, 2. Lana Skeldon, 3. Megan Kennedy, 4. Emma Wassell, 5. Louise McMillan, 6. Evie Gallagher, 7. Rachel McLachlan, 8. Siobhan Cattigan.

Substitutes: 16. Jodie Rettie, 17. Leah Bartlett, 18. Lisa Cockburn, 19. Nicola Howat, 20. Mairi McDonald, 21. Sarah Law, 22. Evie Wills, 23. Rachel Shankland.