Scotland captain Lisa Martin’s Twitter handle of @Shorty10x looked particularly apt during the photocalls at last week’s Six Nations launch in London as she posed next to her 6ft 7in coach Shade Munro.
In contrast to her previous two appearances at the event, the stand-off/centre was entitled to stand a few inches taller, though, after the Scots finally managed to end a seven-year drought with victories over Wales and Italy last season.
Having the more “winnable” games away from home this year presents a different challenge but Martin is confident that the tangible progression of late will continue.
“I think it’s just getting back on that road of last season, not really looking at individual matches and saying ‘We’ll win this one’ or whatever,” said the 27-year-old from Portobello.
“It’s just kind of backing up last year and fitting in new things that we’re doing. And just trying to iron out all those little things that we can improve on and continue to catch up with the big powers in terms of England and France. It’s tough, but it’s what we’re hoping to do.”
The campaign begins in Wales on Friday and Martin said she and the squad can’t wait to get started after the frustration of having their warm-up game against Spain snowed off at Scotstoun last Sunday.
“Yeah, it’s going to be huge,” she said. “Obviously going down to Colwyn Bay is a massive test for us. We played them in the autumn international period at Oriam and had a good win there.
“It’s going to be a momentum-starter, and a good test of how far we’ve come together as a squad, and how we’re looking and where we’re going. Everyone’s really buzzing and excited to get into Wales now.”
Notching an away win is an obvious goal and Martin says that is a challenge the women are relishing.
“I wouldn’t say it was too much a mental thing,” she said. “We’ve got those home wins on the board, and now it’s about going away from home and using the crowd where we can. Obviously away crowds are never really going to be in our favour, but it’s about using that buzz, and motivating ourselves. It’s always difficult to play away no matter where you are, but we are looking to do really well down in Wales. I think we can come away with a very good result down there.”
Murrayfield Wanderer Martin has gained some high quality club-level games at Darlington Mowden Park Sharks this season and is hoping that experience will pay off in the Six Nations.
“Yeah, it’s massive,” she said. “Every training session’s a challenge, let alone a game. You’ve got to fight for your jersey to start there, and having that competition is only going to help bring the players on.
“Playing down south has been brilliant: at the end of the day it’s all about the national team, and if that’s what we have to do to improve it, that’s the way we’re going to go.”
In some ways the benchmarks this season will be how the Scots go against the big two of France and Grand Slam champions England in the back-to-back Scotstoun games that follow Friday’s opener in Wales.
“I wouldn’t say there’s hope or anything like that: I would say there’s an expectation to perform very well again,” said Martin.
“We’ve shown how well last season we can perform at home, and it’s about backing it up again. We’re through at Scotstoun now, which is a fantastic venue. We really love it there and we want to create some good memories, having had some bad ones against Spain [in the World Cup qualifier].
“We want to create new ones, and create some winning memories, and I think there’s going to be some strong performances out there. We’re going to give teams a bit of a shock again this year.”
The switch from Broadwood to the home of Glasgow Warriors is one that the skipper approve of.
“I think it’s going to be a brilliant venue,” she said. “We played Spain there last year and the atmosphere was brilliant. We’re really happy to make that the new home of Scottish women’s rugby, and we’re really looking forward to the crowd, and building the buzz and the excitement there.”