USA Women’s Eagles head coach Pete Steinberg has announced a 44-strong player pool for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, which takes place in Ireland from 9-26 August.
The squad features 10 members of the USA Sevens squad that reached the final of the recent HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series round in Sydney, including HSBC Player of the Final Naya Tapper and Rio 2016 Olympic Games captain Kelly Griffin (pictured).
There are 10 uncapped players in the pool, but also 10 players with previous World Cup experience, including 2014 captain Kate Daley and Phaidra Knight, the most-capped player in the pool with 34 tests for the Women’s Eagles.
“We’ve realised, for us to be able to compete, we need to really improve our skills,” admitted Steinberg, who will have USA women's sevens coach Richie Walker as his backs coach for WRWC 2017. “Our focus isn’t going to be as much about playing games as it is to put as many people as possible in a full-time training environment to enhance our skill development.”
The Women’s Eagles, winners of the inaugural World Cup in 1991, will face defending champions England, Italy and Spain in Pool B in the 2017 edition and Steinberg understands the challenges the tournament will pose his squad.
“We recognise the World Cup is a different experience,” explained Steinberg. “It’s a month, the longest trip we ever take in a quadrennial. It’s high-pressure, and experience is important. We have a young team, the seams team is young, and this is an exciting time for USA Rugby.
“None of these players received invitations because of their experience, but because they demonstrated at the NASC (National All-Star Competitions) to be one of the best players in their positions.
“However, it is nice to have some experience that can have a calm head when, all around them, things are going crazy.”
Players currently sidelined through injury may be added to the pool if they recover.
USA WRWC 2017 player pool: Baylee Annis, Kathryn Augustyn, Catherine Benson, Sylvia Braaten, Stacey Bridges, Nicole Burr, Kayla Canett, Ryan Carlyle, Sarah Chobot, Kate Daley, Cheta Emba, Joanne Fa’avesi, Tiffany Faaee, Tess Fury, Megan Foster, Jordan Gray, Hunter Griendling, Kelly Griffin, Abby Gustaitis, Nicole Hevirland, Alev Kelter, Molly Kinsella, Joanna Kitlinski, Phaidra Knight, Bulou Mataitoga, Samantha Pankey, Sara Parsons, Annakaren Pedraza, Ashley Perry, Christiane Pheil, Naima Reddick, Jamila Reinhardt, Hope Rogers, Kimber Rozier, Nicole Snyder, Kristine Sommer, Kelsi Stockert, Nicole Strasko, Naya Tapper, Kristen Thomas, Alycia Washington, Jess Wooden, Kate Zackary, Kristin Zdanczeweicz.