Jade Konkel wins start against Azzurri

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SCOTLAND Women’s latest talent Jade Konkel has been backed to shine by her own captain as the side get ready to face Italy this afternoon in a crucial match.

The game has taken on a lot of significance for two reasons – one, because the Scots have not won in 15 championship outings stretching back to 2010, and two, because the result will have a bearing on seedings for the World Cup qualifiers in Spain in April.

And 19-year-old Konkel, who is originally from Inverness, has been brought into the starting line-up at the expense of her Hillhead/Jordanhill team-mate Mary Lafaiki after impressing on debut off the bench in the defeat to 
England last week.

Last season Konkel showed her determination to reach as high a level as she could by travelling from Inverness to Glasgow each Sunday to play for her club side – and it has paid off.

Of her back-row colleague, Scotland skipper Susie Brown said: “I was really impressed with Jade’s performance off the bench last week. She showed great composure for one so young, wasn’t overawed at all and she fully merits her start against Italy.

“In general all the new players have done well since coming into the group and we know we really have to work hard as a team in this one to get the desired result.”

Scotland’s last positive result in the Six Nations was a 6-6 draw against Italy three years ago and the Italians travel in high spirits after beating France 13-12 last week.

Scotland (to face Italy at Mayfield, Dundee, today, 2pm): Steph Johnston (RHC Cougars); Annabel Sergeant (Richmond), Sarah Dixon (RHC Cougars), Lisa Ritchie (Carlisle), Megan Gaffney (Hillhead/Jordanhill); Tanya Griffith, Louise Dalgliesh (both RHC Cougars); Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers), Tracey Balmer (Worcester), Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond), Bridget Millar-Mills (Worcester), Jade Konkel (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Susie Brown, Tess Forsberg (both Richmond). Subs: Beth Dickens, Suzanne McKerlie-Hex (both Murrayfield Wanderers), Nikki McLeod (Morgan), Becca Parker, Mary Lafaiki (both Hillhead/Jordanhill) Sarah Law, Leanne Neary (both Murrayfield Wanderers), Lauren Harris (Melrose)