Caretaker coach Aslam Abrahams named an experienced Springbok Women’s team ahead of their crucial Rugby World Cup qualifier against Uganda in East London on Saturday. “We have selected a quality team featuring experience and youth, and we believe this group is capable of delivering the goods,” Abrahams said on Thursday.
“The ladies have trained hard this week and the atmosphere in the camp is positive, so it is now a case of remaining focused on the task at hand and doing our best on match-day.” Experienced captain and loose forward Mandisa Williams will be joined by a host of experienced campaigners, including wing Natasha Hofmeester, flyhalf Zenay Jordaan and lock Dolly Mavumengwana.
“Fortunately we have a nucleus of experienced players who are aware of the demands of top-class international rugby,” Abrahams said. “Hopefully they will lead by example on Saturday.”
Border prop Asithandile Ntoyanto will make her debut in the team that features 13 players from last month’s Nations Cup in Colorado. Ntonyanto along with replacement props Sinazo Tsawu and Amanda Tshidi, and SA Under-20 scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey make up the four debutantes in the matchday 22.
The inclusion of a host of Border players in the starting team will inspire the team to make their presence felt in front of their home crowd. The Border players include the loose-forward duo of Williams and Nwabisa Ngxatu, scrumhalf Fundiswa Plaatjie and lock Nolusindiso Booi.
The starting team also features a few settled combinations, the most notable being the halfback pairing of Jordaan and Plaatjie, who featured prominently at the Nations Cup.
The South African women could book their place to next year’s International Rugby Board Women’s Rugby World Cup in France with a victory which would mark their third successive appearance in the international showpiece. However, defeat would rule them out of the tournament.
Abrahams expected an epic encounter and said with a Rugby World Cup place at stake neither team needed extra motivation. “This is a massive game for both teams so we expect Uganda to be as determined as we are to register a victory,” he said.
Springbok women’s team: Zandile Nojoko, Marlien Cronje, Mathrin Simmers, Daphne Scheepers, Natasha Hofmeester, Zenay Jordaan, Fundiswa Plaatjie, Mandisa Williams (captain), Nwabisa Ngxatu, Vuyolwethu Vazi, Dolly Mavumengwana, Nolusindiso Booi, Asithandile Ntoyanto, Thandi Xwetu, Laurian Johannes. Replacements: Denita Wentzel, Sinazo Tsawu, Amanda Tshidi, Andrea Mentoor, Lamla Momoti, Tayla Kinsey, Veroeshka Grain, Marnazelle Rabie.