England v Scotland: Helen Nelson will be up against housemate Helena Rowland in Six Nations opener

Helen Nelson won’t just be up against her team-mate when she faces Helena Rowland in Scotland’s opening Six Nations match against England in Doncaster on Saturday. The two Loughborough Lightning stand-offs are also housemates.

Helen Nelson was part of the Scotland side which impressed in the 13-13 draw with France last October. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Nelson, who is Scotland’s vice-captain, expects a bit of banter with Rowland as she goes about trying to plot a way past the defending grand slam champions.

It could be a daunting task. England won this fixture 53-0 in Edinburgh last season but Scotland are hoping new coach Bryan Easson can build on the excellent start he made last October when the Scots held France to a 13-13 draw.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The mantra from the visitors’ camp this week is that they are focusing on themselves rather than the opposition but that has been more tricky for Nelson given that she shares a house with the England fly-half.

“We had a bit of chat about it last week, saying it would be good fun if we are playing 10 against each other,” said Nelson.

“I play outside of Helena at 12 when we’re at Lightning and we’ve got a really good partnership, so I’m excited to go up against her and have a bit of banter on the pitch about it.”

With fellow players Rhona Lloyd, Daleaka Menin and Lizzie Goulden also living in the house it is safe to assume that the topic of rugby is never far from the agenda.

At 26, Nelson is five years older than Rowland but the Scot says the England player is the sensible one.

“We have a laugh in the house about how she’s the mature one out of all of us. She’s got a mature head on her.

“I would say we’re quite similar in terms of both appearing calm on the pitch – we might not be on the inside but outwardly we both appear quite calm.”

Read More

Read More
Women’s Six Nations: Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm refuses to be daunted by op...

Calm heads will be required at Castle Park and Nelson and the other members of the Scotland squad who play in England have been passing on advice to those based north of the border.

England stand-off Helena Rowland shares a house with Scotland rival Helen Nelson. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

“It is just about instilling confidence,” said Nelson. “We do know the English girls a bit better so if any of my team-mates come and ask me, ‘how does this person do x,y,z’, then I can say this is one of their weaknesses.

“Breaking it down is the way. Talking about England as a whole squad can become intimidating. Break it up player by player and match them up with our girls. We are up there individually when you look at the squads. It is about not focusing too much on the English if that makes sense.

“For me, personally, playing against these girls week-in and week-out, I know they have weaknesses, I know they are not all world-class all the time.

“I think it is easy to put England on a pedestal at times when they are out on the pitch, but they’re human at the end of the day, and we’re getting better and better.

“We’re building and our belief in the squad is getting there, match on match, so I think we just need to concentrate on ourselves, focus on our performance, and that gap will start closing, 100 per cent.”

A message from the Editor:

Get a year of unlimited access to all of The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today