Scotland scrum-half Louise Dalgliesh tells us how her side is set for tomorrow's game against England. The number 9 will win her 50th cap for her country in the game. Dalgleish has had a busy week and last night worked for BBC Radio Scotland commentating on Scotland A's win over England Saxons.
This past year seems to have flown by and the girls are all really excited about getting this seasons RBS 6 Nations competition underway. The countdown is well and truly on for our opening match, and with England as the visiting team on Sunday, it couldnt come much tougher!
The defeat last year has been much talked about and not something we can hide from; it was a painful result, with a performance that was not good enough at this level. I think we, as a squad, have taken the lessons we needed to from it and moved on, with the focus very much on what is in front of us. England are undoubtedly a quality side who have a very talented group of players and that is why we absolutely have to show an improvement in our basic skills from this time 12 months ago. The work that the coaches and players have been putting in has been constant, and that drive to become better will hopefully be evident on the pitch this weekend, and throughout the tournament.
On a personal note it hasnt only been this past year that has been speeding past. It doesnt seem like nine years ago since I earned my first cap, but on Sunday I will reach number 50. My first cap against Sweden in June 2003 with the sun shining and many more experienced players such as Donna Kennedy, Paula Chalmers and our now coach Karen Findlay looking after me was a tremendous first experience in a Scotland shirt. I imagine Sunday will be very different from that as I will be one of those offering advice and support, and the sun will most probably not be shining! There have been many other memorable matches along the way that I wish I was able to recall the details of and tell story after story about; but Susie Brown is very much the reliable information source and statto in the Scotland camp so she will probably remember most of them better than I do.
At our recent squad weekend some of the younger members asked me to pick a Scotland XV from any of my team mates in any season. This got me thinking and reminded me how many changes and different players I have seen in the squad and did, if Im honest, start to make me feel a bit old. However, I think asking Donna Kennedy that question should keep things in perspective as it would be much harder for her! In my opinion, some of the current squad definitely have the potential to feature, but I will wait until after 6N to announce my team. For now, we need to be focussed on the first match, and getting the performance improvement that we want.
It is hard not to look forward to the other challenges that we will face this year after England. Playing Wales, Ireland and Italy away from home is a challenge for any side, as they are formidable opponents on their own turf and each match will be hotly contested. In addition, welcoming France to Stirling will be a first at that venue, and with them in very good form that will be another massive game for all of us. Add into the mix the fact that WRWC 2014 qualification is there to play for and it cant help but be a 6N to savour. Roll on Sunday!