By Meghan Mutrie - in Lakeland, Florida
The NSWT has announced their starting XV for their first of two tests against the Americans on January 12th in Lakeland, Florida at the Tigertown athletic complex.
The US won a narrow decision over their northern neighbors when they last played each other at the Nations Cup in August.
Since then, the Americans have been dormant in international play, but Canada split a pair of tests with third-ranked France when they toured there in November.
Canada finished a disappointing fourth in the Nations Cup, but NSWT head coach Johnathan Long used the tournament as a tool for selection and to give players an opportunity to experience the pressure playing international rugby.
“The Nations Cup was always about creating opportunities for players to play internationally. That was our whole ethos of the tournament, and we were able to incorporate it so that at the end of the week, we had a squad that can play international rugby and succeed. As a coach, my personal focus was to see players start games that might normally only come off the bench, so no one could say that players weren’t given a chance.”
There have been a few personnel changes as faces have come in and out of the squad from the wider training group, but with only 7 months remaining until the four-year end point, the names are starting to narrow down, says Long.
“Now we’re starting to select the right team for the right game. That’s my job now; to make sure selection is right and the balance is right for the team to perform. But if the balance isn’t right on Tuesday, there are girls here that can come in and perform. That’s where our strength is, we have the depth and the game breakers in all positions whereas before we were limited.”
Long has selected a side with the 2010 World Cup in mind, but also capable of a win on Tuesday.
“We’re always trying to build on our performance, but with the mentality of winning as well. It’s a matter of juggling those two – winning and performing – so that the players gain the confidence of knowing they played well and we can take that into August.”
The match on Tuesday kicks off at 3 PM and will be available live online (see below).
Starting XV: 1. Leslie Cripps (Saracens UK) 2. Leslie McKenzie (Johnsonville RFC - NZ) 3. Marlene Donaldson (Velox Vallhalians) 4. Marie-Eve Brindamour-Carignan (Quebec) 5. Megan Gibbs (Toronto Irish) 6. Barbara Mervin (Velox Vallhallians) 7. Gillian Florence (Ste Anne de Bellevue) 8. Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads) 9. Laura Stoughton (Calgary Irish) 10. Anna Schnell (Burnaby Lake RFC) 11. Cheryl Phillips (Toronto Scottish) 12. Sarah Ulmer (Saracens UK) 13. Mandy Marchak (Capilano) 14. Julianne Zussman (Town of Mount Royal) 15. Ashley Patzer (U of Lethbridge)
Reserves: 16: Kim Donaldson (Velox Vallhallians) 17. Corinne Jacobsen (Burnaby Lake) 18. Paige Burdett (Calgary Irish) 19. Jen Kish (Leprechaun Tigers) 20. Julia Sugawara (Saracens) 21. Andrea Burk (Capilano) 22. D’Arcy Patterson (Capilano)