South Africa women’s caretaker coach Aslam Abrahams has unveiled a squad of 28 players for their Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 qualifier with Uganda at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London on 7 September.
A victory for the Springbok women would secure the final place in next year’s showpiece event in France and the right to represent Africa on the World Cup stage for the third tournament in a row.
The squad features 17 players who participated in the recent Women’s Nations Cup in Americas, including captain Mandisa Williams and playmakers Zenay Jordaan and Veroeshka Grain, and three Under 20 players who took part in their Nations Cup tournament in London.
A handful of players were also involved in Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Russia at the end of June, including star player Natasha Hofmeester who makes a welcome return to the squad after work commitments ruled her out of the Nations Cup.
In line with Abrahams’ plan to expand his pool of players, the squad includes a few new faces with Jacqueline Kriel, Nombasa Nagile, Asithandile Ntoyanto, Sinazo Tsawu and Nomsa Mokwai earning call-ups and will join up with the others in East London on Sunday.
“We have selected the best possible squad for the World Cup qualifier,” said Abrahams. “Most of the players boast invaluable international experience, and many of these ladies have played together before, so they know each other well. This will be vital to perform to our potential. But that said it is always nice to see new faces in the squad, so hopefully the new players will learn from some of the veterans in the group.”
Abrahams is under no illusions about the hard work ahead, especially given the prize at stake in the East London, but he hoped it would inspire the players to put their bodies on the line and make their country proud.
“The fact that a Women’s Rugby World Cup place is at stake is massive motivation, so the ladies know they will have to give their all next week to achieve our goal of participating in the showpiece,” said Abrahams.
“Fortunately we saw first-hand what our shortcomings were at the Nations Cup, so we have an idea of the areas we need to improve on going into the clash.”
South Africa squad: Nolusindiso Booi (Border), Marlien Cronje (Blue Bulls), Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province), Veroeshka Grain (Western Province), Natasha Hofmeester (Western Province), Laurian Johannes (Western Province), Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province), Tayla Kinsey (Sharks), Jacqueline Kriel (Blue Bulls), Thantaswa Macingwana (Border), Dolly Mavumengwana (Sharks), Andrea Mentoor (Western Province), Nomsa Mokwai (Leopards), Lamla Momoti (Border), Zintle Mpupha (Border), Nombasa Nagile (Border), Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border), Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province), Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border), Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border), Marnezelle Rabie (SWD), Daphne Scheepers (Eastern Province), Mathrin Simmers (SWD), Sinazo Tsawu (Border), Ziyanda Tywaleni (Border), Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls), Mandisa Williams (Border), Thandi Xwetu (Blue Bulls)