South Africa have stepped up their preparations for Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 with 35 players gathering in Port Elizabeth on Thursday for the first of eight national training camps in the run up to the 20 August to 5 September event in England.
The players will undergo rigorous fitness training on the first day of the camp before coach Denver Wannies and his management team spend the rest of the time exposing players to specific training, skills development and analysing their performances at the Women's Nations Cup last August.
South Africa failed to win a match at the Nations Cup, losing to eventual champions England, USA and Canada and being denied a confidence-boosting victory by a late French try, having to settle for a 17-17 draw in the opening match of the five-team tournament in Canada.
"This is the beginning of the second phase of our plan as we continue our preparations for the Women's World Cup," explained Wannies, who guided South Africa Women's team to the Cup semi finals of RWC Sevens 2009 in Dubai.
"We concluded our first phase last year following our involvement in the Nations Cup in Canada where many of our players were exposed to international competition. This part of the programme will also see our team compete in international matches to expose more players to top flight rugby."
Daunting draw for South Africa
The training group features a number of players who were part of South Africa's squad when they made their Women's Rugby World Cup debut in 2006, including Yolanda Meiring, Natasha Hofmeester, Saloma Booysen, Mandisa Williams and Fundiswa Plaatjie.
South Africa failed to win a match on their debut in Canada, suffering heavy losses to Australia, England, Ireland, Samoa and Kazakhstan but have continued to improve under the guidance of Wannies as Women's Rugby grows in the country.
The draw has not been kind to South Africa with Wannies' side drawn in Pool A alongside three-time defending champions New Zealand, RWC Sevens champions Australia and Wales, who enjoyed their best year to date in 2009 with a first ever win over England in 22 years of trying en route to a first Six Nations Triple Crown.
"We are also going to spend some time analyzing our performances of the Nations Cup in Canada," Wannies added. "It's important that our players understand where they fell short in terms of competing against the likes of England, France and the USA.
"We need our players to understand where we are in terms of our international opposition. That's why we have also invited some new players to the training squad. Our intentions for this year will be to expose and equip as many players as possible to our vision and plan for the new season."
South Africa Women's training squad
Onnica Moaga, Ilse van Staden, Pulane Motloung, Yolanda Meiring, Veronica Malantswana, Chantelle Palmer (all Blue Bulls), Natasha Hofmeester, Cherne Roberts, Chrisna van Slicht (all Boland), Fundiswa Plaatjie, Mandisa Williams, Portia Jonga, Ziyanda Tywaleni, Nolusindiswe Booi (all Border), Cebisa Kula, Charmaine Kayser, Donna Sidumbu, Lamla Momoti, Lorinda Brown, Namhla Siyolo, Nomathamsanqa Faleni, Phumeza Gadu, Saloma Booysen, Zandile Nojoko, Zenay Jordan (all Eastern Province), Marilize Jordaan (Free State), Yolandie Austin (Golden Lions), Nombulelo Mayongo (Griffons), Dolly Mavumengwana, Lusanda Mtiya (both Kwazulu Natal), Aretha Mabombo (Leopards), Nonkasa Fisiwe Zwane, Aneswa Nkosi (all Mpumalanga), Tshepo Maloa (SANDF), Aimee Barrett, Nosipho Poswa, Portia Scott (all Western Province).