Springbok Women’s coach Lawrence Sephaka on Monday made five changes to his starting team to face France in their second Women’s Rugby World Cup pool clash in Marcoussis on Tuesday.
Three of the changes were in the pack with prop Portia Jonga and No8 Shona-Leah Weston earning starts while flank Lamla Momoti has recovered from the knee injury that forced her to withdraw from the team against Australia last Friday. They replace prop Asithandile Ntoyanto, No8 Mandisa Williams and Rachelle Geldenhuys respectively.
In the backline fullback Siviwe Basweni replaces Cindy Cant and scrumhalf Fundiswa Plaatjie will start in place of Tayla Kinsey.
Ntoyanto, Geldenhuys, Cant and Kinsey, however, have all been named on the bench.
Flyhalf Zenay Jordaan will lead the team in the absence of Williams, while Momoti, who captained the team against the Nomads and France on the team’s World Cup warm-up tour, has been named the vice-captain.
“We have selected a team that we believe will be best suited to face France and we hope to see the team build on our solid second-half performance against Australia,” said Sephaka.
“Siviwe did well as a replacement last week and Fundiswa’s distribution was good when she took to the field. Portia, meanwhile, is a strong prop with impressive skills, so we believe she will add some grunt up front. It is also good to have a player of Momoti’s calibre and experience back, as this is her third World Cup and this experience will be invaluable against a team that comes off a good victory against Wales and who won the Six Nations with a grand slam.”
Sephaka was positive that despite the changes to the team, they would be able to maintain the momentum they built up against Australia.
“We have retained most of the key player combinations, so I don’t think this would disrupt our momentum,” said Sephaka. “We are also fortunate that in the positions where we have made changes, the combinations are settled as these players played together on the warm-up tour to London and France. Zenay and Fundiswa, for example, are also a settled combination as they are both members of the Springbok Women’s Sevens elite squad, so we believe all of these players will stand their ground.”
Commenting on the French test, Sephaka expected a physical battle and said they had to be at their best to create an upset against the hosts.
“France are a physical team with a powerful pack and quality backs,” said the coach. “They showed a lot of patience on attack against Wales last Friday and when we faced them in the warm-up game in July, and they tend to use their point-scoring chances well. They also proved against Wales that they have the ability to punish any mistakes the opposition makes, so we have to be wary of that.
“However, we produced a solid second half performance against them in our last match and we managed to do the same against Australia, so if we can build on that while tightening up our defence and converting our point-scoring chances into points, I believe we could challenge them.”
Springbok Women’s team to face France:
15 - Siviwe Basweni
14 - Veroeshka Grain
13 - Benele Makwezela
12 - Lorinda Brown
11 - Phumeza Gadu
10 - Zenay Jordaan
9 - Fundiswa Plaatjie
8 - Shona-Leah Weston
7 - Vuyolwethu Vazi
6 - Lamla Momoti
5 - Nolusindiso Booi
4 - Celeste Adonis
3 - Cebisa Kula
2 - Denita Wentzel
1 - Portia Jonga
16 - Nwabisa Ngxatu
17 - Asithandile Ntoyanto
18 - Rachelle Geldenhuys
19 - Andrea Mentoor
20 - Tayla Kinsey
21 - Zandile Nojoko
22 - Cindy Cant