Border prop Asithandile Ntoyanto will make her debut for the Springbok Women’s team against Uganda at the Buffalo City Municipal Stadium on Saturday, but caretaker coach Aslam Abrahams could still name an experienced team for this crucial Rugby World Cup qualifier.
The starting team features 13 players who participated in the Nations Cup against England, the USA and Canada in Colorado last month, while Ntoyanto is four players in the match 22 will make their Test debuts.
Experienced captain and loose forward Mandisa Williams, who featured in the last two 15-a-side Women’s Rugby World Cups and Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments, as well as a handful of Nations Cup competitions, will lead the team.
She will be joined by host of experienced campaigners, including wing Natasha Hofmeester, flyhalf Zenay Jordaan and lock Dolly Mavumengwana.
The new faces in the match-day squad are Ntoyanto, replacement props Sinazo Tsawu and Amanda Tshidi, and SA Under-20 scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey.
Kinsey featured in the Women’s Under-20 Nations Cup in England in July.
The inclusion of a host of Border players in the starting team, including the loose forward duo of Williams and Nwabisa Ngxatu, scrumhalf Fundiswa Plaatjie and lock Nolusindiso Booi, will inspired the team to make their presence felt in front of their home crowd.
The starting team also features a few settled combinations, the most notable being the halfback pairing of Jordaan and Plaatjie, who featured prominently at the Nations Cup.
Commenting on the squad, Abrahams said: “We have selected a quality team featuring experience and youth, and we believe this group is capable of delivering the goods. The ladies have trained hard this week and the atmosphere in the camp is positive, so it is now a case of remaining focused on the task at hand and doing our best on match-day.
Fortunately we have a nucleus of experienced players who are aware of the demands of top-class international rugby, and hopefully they will lead by example on Saturday.”
Should the team emerge victorious they will book their place in the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France next year, which would mark their third successive appearance in the international showpiece, while a defeat would rule them out of the tournament.
Zoning in on the match Abrahams expects an epic encounter and said with a Rugby World Cup place at stake neither team needed extra motivation.
“This is a massive game for both teams so we expect Uganda to be as determined as we are to register a victory,” said the coach.
“There is no greater honour than to represent one’s country at a World Cup and we noticed the desire among the players to achieve this in their fantastic attitude this week. But Uganda will feel the same, and they will be even more determined to beat us knowing that we come off a Nations Cup campaign in which we faced tough international opposition, so we are anticipating a big physical battle.”
The Springbok Women’s team to face Uganda:
15. Zandile Nojoko
14. Marlien Cronjé
13. Mathrin Simmers
12. Daphne Scheepers
11. Natasha Hofmeester
10. Zenay Jordaan
9. Fundiswa Plaatjie
8. Mandisa Williams (capt)
7. Nwabisa Ngxatu
6. Vuyolwethu Vazi
5. Dolly Mavumengwana
4. Nolusindiso Booi
3. Asithandile Ntoyanto*
2. Thandi Xwetu
1. Laurian Johannes
16. Denita Wentzel
17. Sinazo Tsawu*
18. Amanda Tshidi*
19. Andrea Mentoor
20. Lamla Momoti
21. Tayla Kinsey*
22. Veroeshka Grain
23. Marnazelle Rabie
* marks players making their Test debuts.