JADE KONKEL believes that regular exposure to top-flight rugby south of the Border will help Scotland avoid a repeat of last year’s humiliating defeat when they welcome England to Scotstoun on Sunday.

The Scots were beaten 80-0 at Twickenham last year in Shade Munro’s final game as head coach, and they have not defeated England this century. But Konkel, who along with a growing number of her team-mates competes in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, believes the squad are now far better placed to deal with the mental as well as physical challenge of taking on the Six Nations favourites.

“We play with and against these players week in and week out,” the Harlequins No.8 said. “We have a lot of players in the Tyrrells Premier 15s who all have the talent to compete against these England players.

“We have to have the belief that we play them all the time and that this game is no different. We have to front up on the pitch and believe that we can. Yes, they beat us 80-0 at Twickenham last year, but at Scotstoun the year before we scored against them, we put in a performance, we were in their faces and made it a really hard job. We have to believe that we can do it and we have to make them really fight for it, because nothing will come easy to them on our home patch.”

At times since making her debut against England in 2013, Konkel, now 26, has looked like one of the few players in the Scotland ranks to really believe that the team can get the better of their higher-ranked opponents. But, while under no illusions about the size of the task that awaits them, she is sure that she is now part of a squad with far greater reserves of self-reliance.

“We’re such a close-knit group on and off the pitch, and that culture is building,” she continued. “Everyone has that mindset that it is an 80-minute battle out there. We aren’t afraid to call each other out either: that makes us tighter and we have that mentality that we want to perform and we want to win whatever it takes.

“It’s always tough. England are a phenomenal side. But - minus the score last year - we are closing the gap: our game and our players are evolving and it is always great to play against them.”

Scotland lost their opening game to Ireland, going down 18-14, while England won 19-13 in France. Head coach Philip Doyle will announce his team for Sunday this afternoon.