Rachel McLachlan is back for Scotland and will be hoping to 'bring energy from minute one to minute 80'

Rachel McLachlan is back in the Scotland side for their crucial match against Australia
©Scotland Rugby

It is hard for any player to watch their team-mates playing from the stands, but for the nine Scotland Rugby World Cup squad members not in the matchday 23 for the agonising loss to Wales last Sunday, it must have been extremely tough.

Scotland went down 18-15 in their Pool A opener at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei and they have had to dust themselves down quickly ahead of another big match against Australia back at the same venue on Saturday.

The squad know that it is a ‘must win’ if they are to keep their hopes of making the knock-out phase alive and, to that end, they are delighted to have back-row Rachel McLachlan and centre Emma Orr fit again.

The latter is only 19 and has a massive future ahead while the former is very much a modern-day openside and the team will need her foraging at the breakdown area in particular.

"Rachel energises the group whether she is on or off the field, she brings energy from minute one to minute 80,” head coach Bryan Easson said. "She is a buzz bomb, she will hit rucks, she will run great support lines, she will make a tackle and she will be a real pest to the Australians.”

McLachlan herself told TRU: “We feel that when the girls got going against Wales, they played some of the best rugby we have played ever, it was really, really good. It was really positive, heads up rugby. Now it is just about finding that 80-minute performance and we have talked about as well as coming out the gates from the off this weekend - there are absolutely positives to take into Australia from Wales.

“I think it is hard to say [if the team played the occasion rather than the match early on versus Wales]. Obviously, I wasn’t on the pitch, but the girls just got into their groove [in the second half] and played some really, really good rugby.

“It is just about turning that into a complete performance and we know we have got that in us. We have been in this position before in our qualifiers [needing a win to stay alive] and we did it then. I think it is really exciting to be playing a team that we really haven’t played much. I don’t think anyone in the squad has played Australia before, so that’s exciting and we are relishing that opportunity.”

Getting fit for World Cup: “An emotional rollercoaster to say the least”

McLachlan has been a constant in the Scotland squad over the last few years since former head coach Shade Munro handed her a debut after she converted from judo. She will earn her 30th cap this weekend, but there has been a bit of a nervous wait since her 29th outing.

Back in late August, in what turned out to be Scotland’s last warm-up game pre-New Zealand with the Spain encounter eventually cancelled, McLachlan injured her elbow versus the USA at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh.

Rehab followed and she had to work very hard with the Scotland medical team to get herself fit enough to make the squad for the showpiece event by the time they flew out on September 23.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, I can’t thank our medical team enough for getting me to this point,” the qualified physio said.

“It was a very emotional few weeks, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of fitness work and a lot of words shared. It has been a wild month and a bit, but I am just happy to be where I am now."

“This dream continues, I’m grateful for my life, this incredible group, the opportunity to represent my country and to inspire the next generation of Scotland women.

“Australia really are quite clinical, they make good decisions, especially around the breakdown, so we have to have our heads ‘on’ and not give them opportunities.

“We need to maintain our own ball as well as having a go at theirs - we are aware they will want to get on the front foot. We just can’t allow them that opportunity.”

For the crucial encounter against an Australian side who lost 41-17 to New Zealand last weekend, head coach Easson has also added backs Sarah Law and Evie Wills to the bench.

And he confirmed this week that an elbow injury has ruled Eilidh Sinclair out of the tournament with Eva Donaldson replacing her.

Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Hannah Smith; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Jade Konkel. Subs: Jodie Rettie, Leah Bartlett, Elliann Clarke, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Mairi McDonald, Sarah Law, Evie Wills, Shona Campbell.