Springbok Women coach Stanley Raubenheimer made five changes to his side to take on Japan’s Sakura XV in Kumagaya on Saturday, in the remaining Test of the Japan Rugby Challenge Series. The hosts won the opening test 15-6 in Kamaishi last Sunday.
Ayanda Malinga (wing), Sizophila Solontsi (No 8) and Asithandile Ntoyanto (prop), who were not in action last weekend, are included in the starting line-up in place of Nomwawethu Mabenge, Aseza Hele and Yonela Ngxingolo respectively, all of whom will start on the bench.
The fourth change is at scrumhalf, where the experienced Tayla Kinsey comes in for Rumandi Potgieter, who drops out of the match day squad. Kinsey covered the flyhalf position off the bench last weekend, but regains her regular starting berth.
Rights Mkhari will also make a first start this season at lock, replacing Lerato Makua, who took a knock in training on Wednesday and was ruled out. Mkhari came off the bench on Sunday to play in her first match of the year and will now start a Test for the first time since the 2019 African Cup.
Her place on the bench will be taken by Catha Jacobs, who last played in a Test match last November against Wales. Malinga, Solontzi and Kinsey all started in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup match against Namibia, while Ntoyanto was on the bench.
Raubenheimer indicated that the changes are rotational of nature as he was keen to give all 28 players some game time during the two-Test tour, with only prop Asiza Mkiva who will not see any action in Japan.
“It is important to give everyone game time as after this tour, we have two Tests remaining before we take on France in the opening match of the Rugby World Cup on 8 October,” said Raubenheimer.
“Everything we do is geared towards that game and the trip to Japan forms part of that plan. I do not think we will have a different approach because of the five players coming in; we still have our plans in place, and it will be a matter of execution of those processes.”
Raubenheimer said the number of changes do not change the direction of the squad’s mission: “We are still looking to impose ourselves on Japan with a direct approach, something we did well last weekend.
“Our execution and skills were poor last week and that cost us the game, so it is just a matter of getting that sharpened up, then I believe we will be successful.”
Raubenheimer was pleased to have Jacobs back in the mix. The lock, who stayed behind in England at the conclusion of the November tour last year, where she played for Saracens and was part of their squad that won the Allianz Premiership. She injured her ankle though and although she joined the African Cup squad in June, she only completed her rehabilitation of the injury now.
“She has shown – since her debut against Kenya last year – what an influential player she can be, and we were all delighted when she did so well at Saracens. It is wonderful to have her back in our squad as well and I am sure she is very keen to play,” Raubenheimer said.
For Jacobs, the return to the green and gold is a highlight: “It is great to be back, it remains such an honour to play for your country and doing so against Japan on such a historic tour makes it even more special.
“We had our chances against Japan in the first Test and if we execute better, the result can go our way, no doubt. I have learned a lot from all the international players I played with at Saracens and will be implementing those back into our training sessions and games.
“We are grateful for the support and messages we receive from home and the team will go out there on Saturday to make our supporters and family proud,” she added.
The Springbok Women team to face Japan in Kumagaya on Saturday:
- Nadine Roos – 5 tests, 15 points (3 tries)
- Ayanda Malinga – 6 tests, 30 points (5 tries)
- Zintle Mpupha – 12 tests, 86 points (16 tries, 3 conversions)
- Aphiwe Ngwevu – 10 tests, 35 points (7 tries)
- Simamkele Namba – 3 tests, 20 points (4 tries)
- Libbie Janse van Rensburg – 7 tests, 62 points (4 tries, 18 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
- Tayla Kinsey – 20 tests, 44 points (2 tries, 14 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
- Sizophila Solontsi – 10 tests, 25 points (5 tries)
- Sinazo Mcatshulwa – 13 tests, 30 points (6 tries)
- Lusanda Dumke – 13 tests, 20 points (4 tries)
- Rights Mkhari – 6 tests, 35 points (7 tries)
- Nolusindiso Booi – captain, 28 tests, 10 points (2 tries)
- Babalwa Latsha – 14 tests, 10 points (2 tries)
- Lindelwa Gwala – 15 tests, 10 points (2 tries)
- Asithandile Ntoyanto – 9 tests, 10 points (2 tries)
- Micke Gunter – 2 tests, 0 points
- Yonela Ngxingolo – 15 tests, 5 points (1 try)
- Monica Mazibukwana – 1 test, 0 points
- Catha Jacobs – 4 tests, 0 points.
- Aseza Hele – 10 tests, 25 points (5 tries)
- Unam Tose – 8 tests, 0 points
- Chumisa Qawe – 8 tests, 5 points (one try)
- Nomawethu Mabenge – 7 tests, 20 points (four tries)