Four Uncapped Players Named in Springbok Women Team for Once-Off Test against Spain

Prop Xoliswa Khuzwayo (pictured) and no.8 Anathi Qolo have been named in the Springbok Women’s starting fifteen to earn their debut caps in the highly antcipated 1-off Test against Spain, at the Pepe Rojo Stadium in Valladolid on Saturday. Photo: SA Rugby

Springbok Women’s coach Louis Koen has included four uncapped players – two in the starting pack and two on the bench – when they play Spain in a one-off Test at Pepe Rojo Stadium in Valladolid on Saturday to start their 2024 international season.

Xoliswa Khuzwayo (prop) and Anathi Qolo (No 8) will start in the pack for the first time, while Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen (prop) and Samantha Els (utility forward) have been included on the bench for this encounter that will also see Bok Women captain Nolusindiso Booi extend her Test cap record to 41 appearances in the green and gold.

Koen, who took charge of the national team a year ago on a corresponding tour to Spain, named 14 players who were involved in the last Test between the two countries – in Madrid on 1 April 2023, a match won 35-20 by South Africa.

“It is always nice to cap new players and, in this case, three of them came so close to selection in last year’s WXV 2, when Xoliswa, Aliyah and Samantha just missed out on the final selection, while Anathi has showed tremendous growth since we invited her to join our alignment camps in December, January and February,” said Koen.

Khuzwayo, Tchogna-Njamen and Els did play for the Bok Women in a warm-up match against San Clemento Rhinos in Cape Town in September last year, while Qolo was one of the shining lights in the all-conquering Bulls Daisies outfit that kept a clean sheet in last year’s Women’s Premier Division.

The Test will also see a return to action for outside backs Jakkie Cilliers – who will be entrusted with the goal-kicking duties – and Aphiwe Ngwevu, who missed out on the WXV showpiece due to injury.

“We have a nice mix of experience and youth in the match day squad, but ultimately, we selected the team on the output and effort showed in the two training sessions against Scotland and Wales last week,” said Koen.

“All the players selected showed to me and my fellow coaches, Franzel September and Laurian Johannes-Haupt, that they wanted that jersey for the Spain Test and they got their reward.”

Koen is keen to build more depth into his squad as well, with 20 capped players either injured or not available for this trip.

“This is the start to the season, and we are keen to build confidence and momentum as we head towards the World Cup qualifying tournament in Madagascar in May,” he said.

“We opted for this tour because we needed to test ourselves against the intensity and skill set of teams ranked above us. It paid off already, as we could easily pick a side based on the training sessions last week.”

Spain is ranked 12th in the world, one position above the Bok Women, and despite South Africa winning the last three encounters between the two sides, Koen is well aware of the ability of the hosts.

“They did really well in WXV 3 and being so close to other rugby nations in Europe, they have the opportunity to train and play against them on a regular basis,” said Koen.

“They will have a training camp against Canada soon, so have well laid plans for their year too. They are certainly improving as a team and bar the fact that they are ranked above us, will play at home, so must be seen as favourites.”

The test match against Spain will kick off at 17h00 (SA time) on Saturday.

The Springbok Women Team to face Spain in Valladolid

15. Chuma Qawe (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 7 Tests, 0 points
14. Maceala Samboya, (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 2 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
13. Veroeshka Grain (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 17 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)
12. Piwokuhle Nyanda (Mastercard Golden Lions Women) – 8 Tests, 0 points
11. Jakkie Cilliers (Bulls Daisies) – 9 Tests, 26 points (2 tries, 5 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
10. Byrhandrè Dolf (Bulls Daisies) – 9 Tests, 10 points (2 tries)
9. Tayla Kinsey (Hollywoodbets Sharks Women) – 30 Tests, 48 points (2 tries, 16 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
8. Anathi Qolo (Bulls Daisies) – uncapped
7. Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL Western Province) – 27 Tests, 45 points (9 tries)
6. Sinelitha Noxeke (Bulls Daisies) – 1 Test, 0 points
5. Vainah Ubisi (Bulls Daisies) – 9 Tests, 0 points
4. Nolusindiso Booi (captain, DHL Western Province) – 40 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
3. Babalwa Latsha (Harlequins Women) – 27 Tests, 25 points (5 tries)
2. Lindelwa Gwala (Ealing Trailfinders Women) – 27 Tests, 25 points (5 tries)
1. Xoliswa Khuzwayo (Mastercard Golden Lions Women) – uncapped

Replacements

16. Roseline Botes (DHL Western Province) – 15 Tests, 40 points (8 tries)
17. Sanelisiwe Charlie (Bulls Daisies) – 14 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
18. Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen (Mastercard Golden Lions Women) – uncapped
19. Danelle Lochner (Harlequins Women) – 10 Tests, 10 points (2 tries)
20. Samantha Els (unaffiliated) – uncapped
21. Rumandi Potgieter (Bulls Daisies) – 13 Tests, 0 points
22. Mary Zulu (Hollywoodbets Sharks Women) – 6 Tests, 2 points (1 conversion)
23. Aphiwe Ngwevu (Border Ladies) – 16 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)


Original copy: SA Rugby Communications, with editing by gsport

Main Photo Caption: Prop Xoliswa Khuzwayo (pictured) and no.8 Anathi Qolo have been named in the Springbok Women’s starting fifteen to earn their debut caps in the highly antcipated 1-off Test against Spain, at the Pepe Rojo Stadium in Valladolid on Saturday. Photo: SA Rugby 

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