Gwen Crabb: Wales Women second row welcomes contest for places

By Bruce PopeBBC Sport Wales
Lock Gwen Crabb made her Wales debut against Hong Kong in November 2018 before establishing herself in the Six Nations squad
Lock Gwen Crabb made her Wales debut against Hong Kong in November 2018 before establishing herself in the Six Nations squad
Women's Test: Scotland v Wales
Venue: Scotstoun Date: Sunday, 17 November Kick-off: 15:10 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C; match report on the BBC Sport website

Wales Women lock Gwen Crabb believes their autumn series has sparked a battle for places that will see the squad go from strength to strength.

They began November with a defeat to Spain in Madrid, but bounced back to beat Ireland in Dublin last week.

Wales now face Scotland in Scotstoun on Sunday looking to put one over their Six Nations rivals.

"Players that have been in the squad for a long time have been pushed for their positions," Crabb said.

"They've been pushed onto the bench for new faces to come and make their first starts, make their first caps, and I think it's just a really nice dynamic in the team to know there is competition in every position now and nothing is certain - week in week out you have to fight for your position.

"I got my first cap last year in the autumn games and I really like the environment, it's a really good way to get new players in, get the young girls used to the set-up before we go into camp for the Six Nations.

"Having my first cap (against Hong Kong) and then playing against Canada last year on top of that took me into the Six Nations with a lot more confidence, and I'd felt what it was like to play on the international stage but slightly less under pressure.

"So moving on then to the competitiveness of the Six Nations it put me in a way better place, I was a lot more confident and I knew my place within the squad.

"I want to be a player that people can look up to, I eventually aspire to be a captain, so I just need to keep working hard and try and keep the starting jersey."

Wales beat Ireland last time out thanks to Keira Bevan's try in the final play of the game and Crabb says that result provided a huge boost.

"It's put us in really good spirits, all the hard work has really paid off, we really needed that win to boost morale a bit going into Scotland. Hopefully we'll have the same result," said the 20-year-old Cardiff Met student.

"Back in the Six Nations we played them and won by two points - again in the last play of the game - so we know it'll be a tough challenge, and they've just come off the back of a really good series in South Africa.

"We played South Africa last year and beat them 19-5 and Scotland have beaten them by a lot more points (47-5 and 38-15), but we've got to forget about those results as it's our game and the way we play against them is going to be different."

After facing Scotland, Wales play Crawshay's at Ebbw Vale on 23 November before finishing against the Barbarians on 30 November at Cardiff's Principality Stadium in a double-header with the men's team.

"I think the idea is in the few games leading up to the Barbarians is to get as many new caps in as we can, everyone gets their chance to prove themselves and then going into the Baa-Baas game we'll be putting out our strongest team," Crabb added.

"Those who have proved themselves the strongest will be in that team and hopefully I'll be one of those players.

"It's going to be un unreal experience, there's been thousands of tickets sold already and I'm really excited for it.

"I've played in the Principality Stadium before but not for Wales, so it's going to be a really great honour to represent Wales if I'm selected.

"We've definitely got a really good buzz around camp, to know we're going to go and make history against the Baa-Baas - especially in a double-header with the men."

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