The Springbok Women suffered a big blow on Monday with lock Nomathamsanqa Faleni and centres Marithy Pienaar and Ziyanda Tywaleni being ruled out of the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup due to injury.
Faleni suffered a knee injury at training last week, while Pienaar’s knee and Tywaleni’s hamstring injuries flared up following their recent return to training following injury-layoffs.
They have all returned home to recover and have been replaced by utility forward Andrea Mentoor, flyhalf Zandile Nojoko and utility back Sinazo Nobele respectively.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup will be hosted in Marcoussis, outside of Paris, from August 1 to 17, with South Africa facing Australia, hosts France and Wales in the pool stages of the competition.
The team’s participation in the competition has been made possible by a R2,3m grant by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.
Mentoor and Nojoko were members of the Springbok Women’s squad that travelled to London and France for the team’s World Cup warm-up tour.
Springbok Women’s coach Lawrence Sephaka admitted that the injuries were a big blow to the team, but he had faith in their replacements to fill their boots with distinction.
The team will depart for the international showpiece on Sunday.
“It is always sad to lose players to injury, especially so close to the World Cup,” said Sephaka.
“Each one of them are top players in their respective positions, while Thami (Faleni) and Ziyanda also boast vast experience as members of the 2010 World Cup squad.
But we have fine replacements in Andrea, Zandile and Sinazo. Zandile, in particular, is one of a select few who have been in the system since our first Rugby World Cup campaign in 2006, so she knows what to expect in France. This may be Andrea and Sinazo’s first World Cup, but they are quality players and good decision-makers, so we have full faith that they will make their presence felt in the competition.”
Sephaka was pleased with the commitment shown by the players at the World Cup holding camp since last Monday and he was particularly impressed with the high tempo of the sessions.
The SARU Mobi-Unit attended several sessions last week as well as Monday morning’s session, in which the women trained against the Stellenbosch Academy boys team.
“Once can sense the excitement among the players for the World Cup,” said Sephaka. “It is evident in their attitude on and off the field that they are determined to perform well in the tournament. We have had a series of high-tempo training sessions and a few technical sessions with the SARU Mobi-Unit since we assembled last week and it has been fantastic to see the eagerness among the players to improve the areas of our game that let us down against the Nomads and France. Hopefully this will set us in good stead for the World Cup.”
Updated Springbok Women’s Rugby World Cup squad:
Celeste Adonis (Western Province)
Siviwe Basweni (Border)
Nolusindiso Booi (Border)
Lorinda Brown (Eastern Province)
Cindy Cant (Blue Bulls)
Phumeza Gadu (Eastern Province)
Rachelle Geldenhuys (Falcons)
Veroeshka Grain (Western Province)
Portia Jonga (Eastern Province)
Zenay Jordaan (Border)
Tayla Kinsey (KwaZulu-Natal)
Cebisa Kula (Eastern Province)
Thantaswa Macingwana (Border)
Benele Makwezela (Western Province)
Andrea Mentoor (Western Province)
Lamla Momoti (Border)
Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border)
Sinzao Nobele (Border)
Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province)
Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border)
Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border)
Siphosethu Tshingana (Eastern Province)
Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls)
Denita Wentzel (Western Province)
Shona-Leah Weston (Blue Bulls)
Mandisa Williams – Captain (Border)