Springbok Women’s caretaker coach Aslam Abrahams on Tuesday announced the 25-member squad that will travel to the USA on Saturday for the senior IRB Nations Cup tournament to be hosted in Colorado from July 30 to August 10.
SA will face hosts, the USA, in their opening round-robin match on July 30, followed by clashes against England and Canada on August 3 and 7 respectively. The final and third and fourth-place playoff will be contested on August 10.
The squad includes seven players who participated in the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia last month, including captain Mandisa Williams, who retains her duties as the team leader.
The other women who featured in Sevens spectacle are Fundiswa Plaatjie, Nomathamsanqa Faleni, Phumeza Gadu, Zenay Jordaan, Mathrin Simmers and Veroeshka Grain.
Grain is among a handful of players who will make their debut for the Springbok 15-a-side team. This group includes the Blue Bulls contingent of Simone Vosloo, Vuyolwethu Vazi, Annilie Pretorius and Thandi Xwetu, Western Province’s Andrea Mentoor and Celeste Marais and Marnezelle Rabie from SWD.
The squad will travel to Johannesburg on Wednesday for a holding camp to prepare for the tournament.
Abrahams, who was appointed caretaker coach of the national women’s 15-a-side team following the decision to appoint Denver Wannies as Sevens head coach, will be assisted by Gerhardus Oelofse in the coach’s box.
The team registered only one victory in the 2011 IRB Nations Cup in Canada against the USA – a performance the team will be determined to improve on this year.
Commenting on his squad, Abrahams said: “We have a good balance of youth and experience, and I believe the momentum some of the women gained at the Rugby World Cup Sevens will set them in good stead for the Nations Cup.
“That said there is hard work ahead as the 15-a-side team has not played much in the last two years. But I have faith in these players.”
Women’s IRB Nations Cup squad: Nolusindiso Booi (Border) Nedene Botha (Free State) Marlien Cronje (Blue Bulls) Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province) Phumeza Gadu (Eastern Province) Veroeshka Grain (Western Province) Laurian Johannes (Western Province) Portia Jonga (Eastern Province) Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province) Celeste Marais (Western Province) Vuyokasi Mbonda (Western Province) Andrea Mentoor (Western Province) Lamla Momoti (Border) Lusanda Mtiya (KZN) Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border) Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province) Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border) Annilie Pretorius (Blue Bulls) Marnezelle Rabie (SWD) Daphne Scheepers (Eastern Province) Mathrin Simmers (SWD) Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls) Simone Vosloo (Blue Bulls) Mandisa Williams (Border) Thandi Xwetu (Blue Bulls) Team management: Aslam Abrahams – Head Coach (caretaker) Gerhardus Oelofse – Assistant Coach Orna Prinsloo – Team Manager Lehlogonolo Mampane – Team Doctor (non-travelling) Denzil van Heerden – Fitness Coach Tanushree Pillay – Physiotherapist