USA coach Pete Steinberg has named a 28-strong squad feature Olympians, Women’s Rugby World Cup veterans and two uncapped players for the 2017 edition in Ireland next month.
Rio 2016 Olympian Jessica Javelet is one of the uncapped players in the squad which boasts an average age of 27 years, prop Nicole James being the other.
Half-backs Kayla Canett and Annakaren Pedraza are the youngest members of the squad at only 19 and 20 respectively and will participate in their first major tournament for the Women’s Eagles.
Thirteen members of the squad have played on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2016-17, including sevens captain Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper (pictured), the latter having scored 32 tries.
Youth the way forward
Sevens coach Richie Walker will work alongside Steinberg for WRWC 2017 when the Women’s Eagles will be looking to build on their sixth-place finish in France three years ago.
Since that tournament 34 players have made their international debuts and just over half of them will travel to Ireland, highlighting the cycle of player development in the USA.
“With an experienced squad in 2014, we knew we had to get younger for this World Cup,” explained Steinberg. “The shortened cycle has made getting so many players the experience they need challenging.
“This is a group that will need to grow through the tournament to be able to play at our top potential. It is exciting, though, to see so many players going to Ireland that will be eligible in 2021.”
The Women’s Eagles will have a number of players with World Cup experience to support those newcomers, including prop Naima Reddick who will play in her third tournament. The others returning from 2014 are Kathryn Augustyn, Sylvia Braaten, Deven Owsiany, Hope Rogers and Kimber Rozier.
USA squad: Kathryn Augustyn, Catherine Benson, Sylvia Braaten, Stacey Bridges, Kayla Canett, Cheta Emba, Tiffany Faaee, Jordan Gray, Abby Gustaitis, Nicole Heavirland, Nicole James, Jessica Javelet, Alev Kelter, Deven Owsiany, Samantha Pankey, Sara Parsons, Annakaren Pedraza, Christiane Pheil, Naima Reddick, Jamila Reinhardt, Hope Rogers, Kimber Rozier, Kristine Sommer, Naya Tapper, Kristen Thomas, Alycia Washington, Jess Wooden, Kate Zackary.