Canada coach Francois Ratier has announced a 28-player squad for Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 featuring 18 players that won silver at the last tournament in France three years ago, including captain Kelly Russell and World Rugby Women's Player of the Year 2014 Magali Harvey.
Ratier based his final selection on performances at the Can-Am Series back in March, where Canada beat their US counterparts 76-15 over two legs, and at the more recent International Women's Rugby Series. During their time in New Zealand, Canada were competitive in defeats to the Black Ferns (28-16) and England (27-20) before claiming third place in the round-robin tournament with a 45-5 win over Australia.
“I would say our capacity to respond to challenges is the greatest strength of this squad,” Ratier said. “We were hard on players in New Zealand and during the Can-Am Series to make sure they were not in the team just to wear the jersey but to perform in every game.
“They have responded well and we are expecting the same during this tough World Cup.”
In addition to Russell and Harvey, Elissa Alarie, Emily Belchos (pictured), Tyson Beukeboom, Latoya Blackwood, Andrea Burk, Olivia DeMerchant, Jacey Grusnick, Jane Kirby, Kayla Mack, Barbara Mervin, Cindy Nelles, Karen Paquin, Laura Russell, Amanda Thornborough, Brittany Waters and Julianne Zussman all return from WRWC 2014.
Chelsea Guthrie, Lori Josephson, Brittany Kassil, Carolyn McEwen, DaLeaka Menin, Brianna Miller, Chelsey Minter, Frederique Rajotte, Kristy Sargent and Alex Tessier will all make their Women’s Rugby World Cup debuts in Ireland.
Furthermore, Gillian Boag, Anais Holly, Daria Keane, Katie McNally, Camille Provencal-Aube, Natasha Smith and Sara Svoboda have been named as non-travelling reserves.
The vast majority of players involved in the Can-Am and International Women's Rugby Series' survived the cut.
“We want to keep some continuity in our work and it’s important for players to know each other on and off the field,” Ratier explained “We also have a non-travelling list of players who know our plans and culture.”
“First we need to get through the pool,” Ratier said. “With this tournament format there is no room for mistakes.
“We will take it one game at a time and we will see where we are at the end but right now our entire focus is on the game against Hong Kong.”
Canada faces Hong Kong first up on 9 August, then Wales four days later before concluding with the toughest test of them all against four-time champions New Zealand on 17 August.
Canada squad: Elissa Alarie, Emily Belchos, Tyson Beukeboom, Latoya Blackwood, Andrea Burk, Olivia DeMerchant, Jacey Grusnick, Chelsea Guthrie, Magali Harvey, Lori Josephson, Brittany Kassil, Jane Kirby, Kayla Mack, Carolyn McEwen, DaLeaka Menin, Barbara Mervin, Brianna Miller, Chelsey Minter, Cindy Nelles, Karen Paquin, Frederique Rajotte, Laura Russell, Kelly Russell (captain), Kristy Sargent,Alex Tessier, Amanda Thornborough, Brittany Waters, Julianne Zussman.