Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer invited two new uncapped players who were part of the girls rugby development pathways, Byrhandre Dolf and Luchell Hanekom, to his training squad of 31 players for their next camp, which starts in Cape Town on Friday.
The two-week camp is the second for the wider squad this year as Raubenheimer starts to fine-tune his troops for a season that will culminate with the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October.
Apart from the inclusion of Dolf, who plays flyhalf for the EP Queens, and Hanekom, a front ranker from Maties, there is also a welcome return for Libbie Janse van Rensburg (flyhalf), who has recovered from the ankle injury she sustained on the Springbok Women’s November tour to France, Wales and England.
Two uncapped DHL Western Province forwards, Azisa Mkiva (prop) and Nokubonga Siko (flank), impressed Raubenheimer enough at the first camp in Stellenbosch last month to remain part of the group that will assemble in Newlands and train at the Villager Rugby Club for two weeks.
Springbok Women’s captain Nolusindiso Booi is recovering from an Achilles strain and although she will not be part of the field sessions, will still attend all other team meetings and technical sessions.
“It will be important to have her around, especially when we are discussing the off-field stuff and as the leader of the squad, Nolusindiso remains an important link between the players and our management,” Raubenheimer explained.
“There is no need to rush her recovery at this stage, so she will be eased in for on-field duties when our medical staff are comfortable with that.”
With regards to the inclusion of Dolf, who hails from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, and Hanekom, who plays hooker for Stellenbosch University and was schooled in Springbok in the Northern Cape, Raubenheimer said he has trust in the pathway for junior players, as currently presented via the regional Youth Training Centres and U16 and U18 national weeks.
“Both of them are fresh out of the junior ranks, where they were stand-outs at the national SA Rugby Under-18 High Performance camp in 2019, and it will be good to expose them to this level and see how they react,” said Raubenheimer.
“We already selected Alichia Arries, who was part of the same year group, in two Tests against Kenya last year, so I am very happy with the talent coming through our pathways.”
Hanekom already attended the last two scrum and lineout camps where Springbok forwards coaches Deon Davids and Daan Human took the pack through their paces, while Dolf was in attendance when kicking consultant Braam van Straaten worked with the kickers last weekend.
“I was very impressed with Byrhandre, especially with what she can bring to our kicking game, but also with an eye on the future,” said Raubenheimer.
The team will play their opening matches of the season in the Rugby Africa Championship in June against Namibia and Zimbabwe. Raubenheimer will build towards those Tests with friendly matches against Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Hamilton Rugby Club on the next two Wednesdays, while he is also keen to address the shortcomings that were identified after their matches in Europe in November.
“We want to focus on rugby issues during this camp,” he said.
“We need to improve on our exits from our half and how to relieve pressure from our own 22. The focus on this camp will be around that aspect of our game and the matches we will play will test us physically, but also in our ability to convert pressure when in our relief zones.”
Springbok Women’s training squad:
Backs (14): Eloise Webb, Alichia Arries, Nomawethu Mabenge, Ayanda Malinga, Simamkele Namba, Jakkie Cilliers, Chumisa Qawe, Aphiwe Ngwevu, Byrhandre Dolf, Donelle Snyders, Libbie Janse van Rensburg, Rumandi Potgieter, Unam Tose, Tayla Kinsey.
Forwards (17): Lusanda Dumke, Nokubonga Siko, Sizophila Solontsi, Sinazo Mcatshulwa, Ziyanda Ngohlekana, Rights Mkhari, Lerato Makua, Karthy Dludla, Nompumelelo Mathe, Babalwa Latsha, Azisa Mkiva, Monica Mazibukwana, Asithandile Ntoyanto, Yonela Ngxingolo, Micke Gunter, Lindelwa Gwala, Luchell Hanekom.