Springbok Women’s caretaker coach Aslam Abrahams on Wednesday announced a talented 28-member squad for their Rugby World Cup qualifier against Uganda at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London on September 7.
A victory for the Springbok Women would secure their place in next year’s IRB Rugby World Cup in France, while a defeat would dash their hopes of participating in the international spectacle.
The squad features 17 players who participated in the recent Women’s Nations Cup in Colorado, including captain Mandisa Williams and play-makers Zenay Jordaan and Veroeshka Grain, and three SA under-20 players who took part in the Nations Cup tournament in London.
A handful of the ladies also participated in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia in June.
This includes star player Natasha Hofmeester who makes a welcome return to the squad after work commitments ruled her out of the Senior Nations Cup.
Border centre Ziyanda Tywaleni and Sharks lock Dolly Mavumengwana, who boast vast experience, have also been included.
In line with Abrahams’ plan to expand his pool of players, the squad includes a few new faces, with Jacqueline Kriel (Blue Bulls), Nombasa Nagile, Asithandile Ntoyanto, Sinazo Tsawu (Border) and Nomsa Mokwai (Leopards) earning call-ups.
Should they secure places in the match-day squad and take to the field, they will make their Test debuts.
The squad will gather in East London on Sunday to begin their preparations for the clash, and will remain in camp until September 8.
Abrahams was delighted with the quality of his squad and he hoped that the experience the players’ gained at the Nations Cup tournaments would count in the team’s favour.
“We have selected the best possible squad for the World Cup qualifier,” said the coach.
“Most of the players boast invaluable international experience, and many of these ladies have played together before, so they know each other well. This will be vital to perform to our potential. But that said it is always nice to see new faces in the squad, so hopefully the new players will learn from some of the veterans in the group.”
Abrahams was under no illusions about the hard work ahead, especially given the high stakes in the clash, but he hoped it would inspire the players to put their bodies on the line and make the country proud.
“The fact that a Rugby World Cup place is at stake is massive motivation, so the ladies know they will have to give their all next week to achieve our goal of participating in the showpiece,” said Abrahams.
“Fortunately we saw first-hand what our shortcomings were at the Nations Cup, so we have an idea of the areas we need to improve on going into the clash.”
Women’s squad for Rugby World Cup qualifier: Nolusindiso Booi (Border), Marlien Cronje (Blue Bulls), Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province), Veroeshka Grain (Western Province), Natasha Hofmeester (Western Province), Laurian Johannes (Western Province), Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province), Tayla Kinsey (Sharks), Jacqueline Kriel (Blue Bulls), Thantaswa Macingwana (Border), Dolly Mavumengwana (Sharks), Andrea Mentoor (Western Province), Nomsa Mokwai (Leopards), Lamla Momoti (Border), Zintle Mpupha (Border), Nombasa Nagile (Border), Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border), Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province), Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border), Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border), Marnezelle Rabie (SWD), Daphne Scheepers (Eastern Province), Mathrin Simmers (SWD), Sinazo Tsawu (Border), Ziyanda Tywaleni (Border), Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls), Mandisa Williams (Border), Thandi Xwetu (Blue Bulls).
Aslam Abrahams – Head Coach
Gerhard Oelofse - Assistant Coach (Forwards)
Orna Prinsloo - Team Manager
Lehlogonolo Mampane - Team Doctor
Denzil van Heerden - Fitness Coach
Tanushree Pillay - Physiotherapist