Loughborough Lightning get back to Premiership Women’s Rugby action this weekend, as they make the short trip to Leicester Tigers for Round 3 – and captain Rachel Malcolm insists the side are putting in the hard yards ahead of their new Derby match on Sunday.
Lightning will lock horns with their East Midlands neighbours for the first time ever at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, following on from Tigers’ clash with Newcastle Falcons as part of a double header of matches – as well as being shown live on TNT Sports 2.
And the Scotland international and Lightning club captain is relishing the challenge of the revamped PWR competition, now that she’s back in the African Violet shirt after lifting the inaugural WXV2 trophy with Scotland back in October.
“[The PWR] is more competitive than ever and it definitely feels that way both on and off the pitch,” said the 32-year-old back rower.
“We’ve got one of the younger teams within the league but I think that’s a huge positive, as we’ve got so much scope to improve as individuals and that means that as a team we also have a lot of scope to improve.”Rachel Malcolm
“You saw glimpses of what we’re capable of against Sarries. The result didn’t sound great on paper but for us, we definitely built opportunities. We had 22 entries into their 22 and to come away with only one try was disappointing, but the fact that we spent so much of the game in that area of the pitch is exciting.
“The more that we play together, the more that we develop as individuals and as a team, and create that identity under a new head coach [in Nathan Smith]. That’s going to come and we’ve just got to believe in that.”
Loughborough are without a win in the competition thus far after falling to top-of-the-league Saracens in Round 1, before enjoying a bye weekend in Round 2.
But Malcolm – who captained Scotland to their WXV2 victory – is certain that the side is building the performances they need to win games at this level.
She added: “Winning is a habit just as much as losing is a habit. I know myself and the other Scotland girls are all wanting to come back into the Club and instil that, in terms of getting some wins under our belts and getting the monkey off our backs from a Lightning point of view.
“But we also can’t focus on the outcome too much. Performance has got to be everything for us. One of the most exciting things within this group is that we know we’re better than what we’ve shown so far.”Rachel Malcolm
“And this weekend gives us an opportunity to show what our performance can be. I can’t predict the future, I don’t know quite what it will look like but I hope that it’s a reflection of what I’ve seen in training. Hopefully, this weekend we can put in a performance we can be proud of. The result will be the result, we don’t know what Tigers will do either but I’m sure it’ll be a good battle.”
While Sunday’s clash with Tigers is the first priority, Malcolm also knows that Lightning will need to keep putting in the hard work throughout the PWR season and building on their performances week-on-week to achieve their long-term goals in the league come the end of the season.
“We’re working extremely hard,” said Malcolm. “This is probably some of the toughest training I’ve done as a player. So we’re working hard to push this team in the right direction and having Nathan at the helm is definitely driving that.
“I’m excited to see where we can go as a group; we obviously have aspirations of moving up the table and challenging at the top, but we’ve got to get the performance right if we’re going to do that.”