Jade Konkel warns that Scotland’s World Cup qualifier with Spain is ‘must win’

Scotland felt the heat in Parma on Monday as they went down heavily to Italy and not even Jade Konkel’s training as a firefighter could prepare her as the thermometer touched 31 degrees inside the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Jade Konkel is back in the Scotland side after taking a break from rugby to train as a firefighter. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

They return to the same venue on Sunday to take on Spain in what has become a must-win match for the Scots in their quest to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The Spanish sprang a surprise in their opening game by beating Ireland 8-7 but Konkel knows that a victory at the weekend would throw open the four-team qualifier and the No 8 has called for “Scottish fighting spirit”.

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“It’s a must win on Sunday and everyone is aware of that,” said Konkel. “It’s very much an all or nothing. We like a challenge, we are the underdogs but we play with a lot of heart and that’s going to really come out on Sunday.”

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The Italy game, which the hosts won 38-13, was the Harlequins forward’s first match since taking a break from the sport to undergo training as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade. She admits she found the going tough in the afternoon sun and is glad the Spain game is kicking off in the early evening.

“Playing in that heat was something else, even from the first five minutes you could tell it was absolutely energy sapping,” said Konkel.

“I didn’t really expect my first game back to be in 32 degrees. You’d think I’d have had some experience, having been in rooms of fire, but I don’t think anything really matched up to that heat.

“It was really tough but you can’t put everything on the heat. It was a massive, massive factor and I know the Italians said they were also struggling and our Scottish skin wasn’t doing well with that.

“But we’ve reviewed the game and we’ve had really honest discussions around it. A six-day turnaround isn’t a lot of time but that’s also a good thing because hopefully we can go out and rectify all those things we weren’t happy with.”

Scotland’s final match is against Ireland in Parma on September 25 and only the group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup in New Zealand. The runners-up go into a repechage international qualifier.

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