Edinburgh women’s Alex Stewart has admitted the squad have surpassed their own expectations and shocked themselves with how well they have performed in the Celtic Challenge this season.

Edinburgh face Irish side Wolfhounds in the first of their playoff matches tomorrow before then taking on Clovers next week and Stewart has been loving life, having played every minute of their campaign so far.

The Edinburgh vice-captain will against start in the back row in a squad that also includes Scotland international Rhona Lloyd for the first time. And she’s looking forward to the game and believes the belief instilled in them by head coach Claire Cruickshanks has played a big part in their growing stature in the game.

Wolfhounds beat Edinburgh 27-17 in the first game between the sides at the Hive in January but Stewart is confident they are going into this one in a better place.

She said: “We’ve kind of shocked ourselves a little bit. In training during the week Claire pushes belief and when we talked about values at the start, enjoyment has come up, belief has been all the way through our campaign. When we are coming out on top of those really close scores, it just pushes us to believe we are in a good stead for the final round.

“We were so disappointed with the first game (against Wolfhounds), we’re in good hands going into this one. They are our biggest challenge and it’s the one we all want so we’re really excited.

“This is the focus game for us. Clovers is after it but this is the game we all need to be on top form for.”

Stewart is in her second year of university but she harbours ambitions of representing her country on the biggest stage, and she’s willing to put the effort in to get there but her whole focus is on Edinburgh right now.

She added: “It’s definitely a goal. Right now I’m focusing on playing well for Edinburgh but it’s definitely something I’ve got my eye on.

“It’s just hoping I put the performances in and hopefully soon get the call-up.”