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Bok Women's plan for Africa Cup

SPOTLIGHT: The Springbok Women are well aware of the potential reward at the end of their next journey to Madagascar, but they will not make the mistake of focusing only on the ultimate prize and to then be tripped up by something unexpected because they look too far ahead.

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That is the view of Bok Women scrumhalf Rumandi Potgieter, who is amongst the 28 players to leave for Madagascar on Thursday, with a Test match against Cameroon opening their Rugby Africa Women’s Cup campaign on Saturday.

The winner at the end of the tournament on May 12 will not only qualify for the 2025 World Cup in England but will also book their place in the WXV 2 tournament later this year.

“We are looking at the road in front of us to make sure we don’t step into an unexpected pothole,” Potgieter said from Pretoria, where the Bok Women are fine-tuning their effort at the Tuks HPC.

“We know we will qualify for the World Cup next year if we win this tournament, but before that happens, we need to be at our very best against Cameroon this weekend.”

Potgieter added that they will also need to ensure they continue improving during the next two weeks on the road.

“Yes, the focus is on Cameroon and what they will bring, and after that the same principle will apply to Kenya and then Madagascar,” he added.

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“We’re taking nothing for granted.”

The squad have been working hard over the last couple of months. They gained valuable game time and experience on a tour to Europe last month, and Potgieter feels they are well prepared for the task at hand.

“We are eating the elephant one bite at a time, as the saying goes,” she said.

“Yes, we dream big, but we are all in on the mission to do it one step at a time. And that first step will be Cameroon this weekend.

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“We played against them in the opening match of the tournament last year and did well, but this is a new start. Their team might be totally different, as well as the conditions, so we are not looking back at that result at all.”

Potgieter, who played at the previous World Cup in New Zealand, was involved in all the Springbok Women action since and the masters graduate in international law is adamant that the team’s upward curve is sustainable.

“We have won eight of our last 12 test matches, so we are doing something right, but there is also room for improvement, as we are not the final product yet,” she said.

“I believe this weekend will be an important step towards our end goal as a team and we will approach it with the right mindset.”

The squad experienced, much to their surprise, a very supportive crowd at Stade Maki in Antananarivo last year and Potgieter hopes for more of the same this time around.

“It was wonderful to play in front of around 12,000 appreciative fans, who supported women’s rugby, irrespective of who was playing,” said Potgieter.

“They were really involved in our games and we loved that, as we don’t always play in front of big crowds at home.”

For Mary Zulu, a return to Madagascar will hold special memories as she started her first Test match at flyhalf against Cameroon at Stade Maki last year.

“And that was only my second Test match,” the 21-year-old said.

“It is hard to believe how time flies, and how much I have grown as a player since then.”

Zulu thanked the coaches for their trust and the response from senior players in helping her grow and develop as a Test player.

“The rest of the team have always responded well to me and my role, whether at fullback or now at flyhalf.

“It is comforting to know they trust me at flyhalf and the decisions I make in that position. The same with the coaches, who have guided me and gave me confidence to play.”

Zulu is also very keen to return to Stade Maki.

“The atmosphere was great last time around, so we are hoping for more of the same this year. Our focus is on this weekend and what we need to do to get the job done. We are going there to represent our country and will be doing it proudly. And of course, we want to make our supporters proud as well.”

The match-day squad for the Test against Cameroon will be announced on Thursday.

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