Koen tweaks Bok Women for Italy showdown

Koen tweaks Bok Women for Italy showdown

Springbok Women coach Louis Koen announced four changes to the starting team to face Italy in the second round of WXV 2 at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Friday.

Springbok Women coach Loius Koen announced four changes to the starting team to face Italy in the second round of WXV 2 at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Friday.

Nolusindiso Booi will make a record 39th Test appearance at lock, Byrhandrè Dolf will start at wing, Micke Gunter at hooker and Catha Jacobs at flanker.

Koen also made four changes on the bench from the team that faced Scotland in the opening WXV match in Stellenbosch last weekend. Luchell Hanekom, Asithandile Ntoyanto, Unam Tose and Unathi Mali will get a first opportunity to experience WXV against the eighth-ranked team in the world.

Koen left his backline unchanged bar the right-wing position, where Maceala Samboya, who left the field against Scotland due to HIA protocols, is replaced by Dolf, who has been cleared to play after taking a knock against Samoa recently, coming into the back three.

Up front, Koen made more significant changes, with Booi moving from the bench to swop places with Vainah Ubisi, along with Jacobs, who will start this time with Sinazo Mcatshulwa coming off the bench.

Micke Gunter will start at hooker in place of Lindelwa Gwala, who drops out of the squad altogether, while Hanekom and Ntoyanto will replace Roseline Botes and Amber Schonert respectively.

Gunter was named as a replacement loose forward last Friday and with her moving into the starting pack, Nompumelelo Mathe will be handed the responsibility to bring pace and energy off the bench in what will be her 17th Test appearance.

With Koen again opting for a split of six forwards and two backs amongst the replacements, two new backs will be involved. Tose will come off the bench in place of Rumandi Potgieter, while Mali takes over from Mary Zulu.

"Changes were always part of the plan, whether forced on us in the case of Maceala, or rotational like with the others," said Koen.

"We made it clear to the players that everyone will have to run in this competition, not only to keep players fresh and eager, but also to make sure we build some depth in our test match experiences.

"Yes, we made some mistakes and there were lost opportunities against Scotland, but no one is punished for that, this is rather a case of us continuing with our communicated approach of expanding our base and making sure everyone is exposed to WXV rugby.

"One of the main benefits of this competition is the fact that we are tested at a higher level of much-needed competition, and it is only fair that everyone in the squad gets that opportunity to show why they should remain part of this team."

Koen said the challenge against Italy will be very similar as they encountered against Scotland: "They do play with a good tempo but have a strong physical element to their game as well.

"It will be a challenge, but if we only play against our opponents on the day and not against ourselves as well, we will be competitive in this match. I am happy that we are getting closer and closer to our true potential and that makes it very exciting to be around this team."

Booi and Tayla Kinsey (scrumhalf) are the only players who faced Italy before, with both involved in the only previous clash between the sides, played abroad at Prato in 2018, with the home side winning 35-10.

Booi will extend her record of Test caps to 39, with Kinsey the most capped scrumhalf to don the Springbok Women jersey.

Springbok Women v Italy in Cape Town:

15. Chuma Qawe - 5 caps, 0 points

14. Byrhandrè Dolf - 7 caps, 5 points (1 try)

13. Veroeshka Grain - 15 caps, 35 points (7 tries)

12. Piwokuhle Nyanda - 6 caps, 0 points

11. Shaunique Hess - 3 caps, 10 points (2 tries)

10. Libbie Janse van Rensburg (vice-captain) - 18 caps, 168 points (7 tries, 50 conversions, 10 penalty goals, 1 drop goal)

9. Tayla Kinsey - 29 caps, 48 points (2 tries, 16 conversions, 2 penalty goals)

8. Aseza Hele - 19 caps, 35 points (7 tries)

7. Catha Jacobs - 13 caps, 0 points

6. Lusanda Dumke - 26 caps, 30 points (6 tries)

5. Danelle Lochner - 8 caps, 10 points (2 tries)

4. Nolusindiso Booi (vice-captain) - 38 caps, 10 points (2 tries)

3. Babalwa Latsha (captain) - 25 caps, 20 points (4 tries)

2. Micke Gunter - 7 caps, 0 points

1. Sanelisiwe Charlie - 11 caps, 5 points (1 try)

Replacements: 16. Luchell Hanekom - 2 caps, 0 points, 17. Asithandile Ntoyanto - 19 caps, 15 points (3 tries), 18. Yonela Ngxingolo - 26 caps, 10 points (2 tries), 19. Vainah Ubisi - 7 caps, 0 points, 20. Sinazo Mcatshulwa - 25 caps, 45 points (9 tries), 21. Nompumelelo Mathe - 16 caps, 25 points (5 tries), 22. Unam Tose - 17 caps, 0 points, 23. Unathi Mali - 2 caps, 5 points (1 try)