SA Women gearing up for curtain-raiser at Ellis Park
For most of the Springbok Women who will run out at Ellis Park on Saturday against Spain, it will be a historic first in the iconic stadium.
The Spaniards are ranked higher than the South African team and outplayed the Boks a couple of years ago.
The Springbok Women started their Test week with a good session in Potchefstroom and an according to assistant coach Eddie Myners the first day of training showed little rustiness following a short break the squad enjoyed after their historic victory over Japan’s Sakura XV just over a week ago.
“We had a good start to the week with a very nice team-building session this morning and then some clarity sessions with our forwards and backs,” said Myners.
“The team can now focus on the challenges Spain will bring on the weekend.”
An early morning obstacle course challenge at the local Army Support Base had the team sweating, but boosted the mood in the camp, while they went through their paces on the training field on a crisp afternoon in Potchefstroom.
“We identified further improvement in set-pieces, especially our lineouts, and we want to make sure we keep lifting the bar following that solid performance against Japan in Kumagaya,” Myners explained.
“We looked at the defensive system again – in Japan we managed to overcome some tough conditions, so the belief is there, but the reality is that Spain are ranked even higher than Japan, so we can expect some fierce resistance from them,” Myners said.
“For us to be successful, we just need to highlight the role each player has in the defensive system as communication in that regard will be vital if we want to achieve the same result against Spain.”
“That said, the win over Japan did give the team some self-belief and confidence. That is something we will use to our advantage and make sure we take that into the Spain match.”
Nadine Roos, also a Springbok Women Sevens player, has never watched a game at the stadium, so the anticipation to run out in front of a home crowd is huge.
“We would love nothing more than to have a decent crowd for the game. We want to show people what we are about and since we have not played at this venue in a Test match, I hope people will come early to watch us play as well. We are preparing for a Rugby World Cup, where we will be playing in the opening match of the tournament in New Zealand, so the bigger the crowd, the better for us. We will be in front of a big crowd in that opening game at Eden Park, so the more spectators we get this weekend, the better it will work for us from an experience point of view.”
The 26-year-old, who has played six Test matches and scored three tries, said it is a fantastic opportunity to play the curtain raiser to the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand.
“This is a huge privilege for us playing that match before the men take the field. We would love nothing more than to make South Africa proud with our performance and be part of this historic day for us. We can’t wait.”
For Roos, who has played against Spain in sevens rugby, where she is South Africa’s leading scorer, is one thing, to tackle them in fifteens is another.
“This is going to be a tough nut to crack, they are ranked higher than us, so we will enter the match as favourites. But so was Japan and we managed to beat them. They play very much like Japan did as well, playing at speed and moving the ball around from side to side. We tend to be more physical and direct, so will have to make sure we prevent them from playing their game, but force them to play ours. If we manage that, we should enjoy the result at the end of the match. We saw what worked for us against Japan, so keeping to that structure will work in our favour.”
The team will travel to Johannesburg on Wednesday and complete their preparations for the first test match there.