Springbok Women’s coach Lawrence Sephaka on Tuesday announced a preliminary squad of 39 players for the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup as he looks to put the building blocks in place for the international showpiece in France from August 1 to 17.
The squad includes the 16 elite Springbok Women Sevens players based in Port Elizabeth, 11 players who featured in the 2010 IRB Rugby World Cup in London and a number of up-and-coming players.
“We have five months to get the women ready for the Rugby World Cup, so it is important to name a preliminary squad who we could work with to ensure that their fitness levels and techniques are at the required level to compete successfully,” said Sephaka.
“This squad features a healthy mix of youth and experience, which is encouraging for the future of women’s rugby, but also to achieve our goal of advancing to the knock-out stages, and hopefully winning the tournament.
“The Sevens elite squad is training hard with coach Renfred Dazel and they have a few tournaments coming up in the next few months,” Sephaka added.
“This will be beneficial for their match fitness and big match temperament. The other players have received their training programmes and have been working closely with the satellite coaches in their respective regions, which has involved a fair bit of individualised training, so our preparation is on track.”
The players in the squad who participated in the 2010 Rugby World Cup includes Zenay Jordaan, Lorinda Brown and Phumeza Gadu, who are all members of the elite Sevens squad, as well as stalwart Mandisa Williams, Fundiswa Plaatjie and Laurian Johannes.
Powerful prop Asithandile Ntoyanto and back Tayla Kinsey, who made their Test debuts last season in the Rugby World Cup qualifier against Uganda, were among a handful of new players who could feature in their first IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup.
They were joined by forwards Rights Mkhari and Andrea Mentoor, and versatile player Shona-Leah Weston.
The squad will be reduced to 26 players before the World Cup.
The specialist 15-a-side players will continue their preparation for the World Cup in their satellite camps in the next few months, while the Sevens elite players will participate in the Hong Kong Invitational, an African Sevens series in Kenya and the IRB Women’s World Sevens Series in Amsterdam in the next two months.
The preliminary squad will then assemble in Pretoria for a training camp from June 18 to 24, after which the squad will travel to London and France for a World Cup warm-up tour.
This tour will feature three matches, two against the Nomads in London, and one against World Cup hosts and pool competitors France.
The squad will assemble again on July 14 for a two-week holding camp, with the World Cup squad set to depart for Paris on July 27.
Springbok Women’s Preliminary World Cup squad: (In alphabetical order) Celeste Adonis (WP), Nicolene Barendse (SWD), Siviwe Basweni (Border), Lorinda Brown (Eastern Province), Nolusindiso Booi (Border), Marlien Cronje (Blue Bulls), Kirsten Conrad (Boland), Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province), Phumeza Gadu (Eastern Province), Rachelle Geldenhuys (Falcons), Veroeshka Grain (WP), Nosiphiwo Goda (Border), Laurian Johannes (WP), Portia Jonga (EP), Zenay Jordaan (EP), Tayla Kinsey (KZN), Jacqueline Kriel (Blue Bulls), Thantaswa Macingwana (Border), Benele Makwezela (WP), Nomaphelo Mayongo (KZN), Vuyokazi Mbonda (WP), Andrea Mentoor (WP), Rights Mkhari (Limpopo Blue Bulls), Nomsa Mokwai ( Leopards), Lamla Momoti (Border), Zintle Mpupha (Border), Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border), Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border), Tamsyn Nuttley (WP), Marithy Pienaar (Blue Bulls), Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border), Mathrin Simmers (SWD), Amanda Tshidi (Border), Ziyanda Tywaleni (Border), Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls), Denita Wentzel (WP), Shona-Leah Weston (Blue Bulls), Christal Williams (SWD), Mandisa Williams (Border).