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Canada set to open International Rugby Series against New Zealand

Bryan Kelly

Canada’s senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier has named his starting XV for the International Women’s Rugby Series opener against New Zealand on Friday in Wellington.

Kelly Russell captains a team that has a wealth of experience as No. 3 ranked Canada faces the top ranked Black Ferns.

“Our preparation has been very good,” Ratier said. “It's the right country to be in when you want to be exposed to rugby.”

Friday’s game is a precursor to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in August when the two sides will meet in the pool stages of the tournament.

“We don't approach it this way as being crucial,” Ratier said. “It's another international game versus a top nation.

“We take it as a challenge where we need to perform and continue to build our rugby.”

Carolyn McEwen, Laura Russell and DaLeaka Menin start in the front row for Canada with Tyson Beukeboom and Kayla Mack at lock. Jacey Grusnick and Karen Paquin start at flanker with Kelly Russell at No. 8.

Edmonton’s Chelsea Guthrie starts at scrum-half with Emily Belchos at fly-half. Elissa Alarie and Magali Harvey start on the wings while Amanda Thornborough and Brittany Waters get the nod in centre. Julianne Zussman starts at fullback.

Canada will be without Andrea Burk and Latoya Blackwood who miss out due to injury.

“The most important thing is the strength of the team, individuals can change the game but it doesn't affect the dynamic,” Ratier said.

Canada will also face England and Australia in the tournament, the final warm-up before the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Friday’s game can be seen LIVE on www.worldrugby.org at 1am ET/10pm PT.

Canada’s Roster vs. New Zealand (Name, club, hometown):

1. Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC

2. Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)

3. DaLeaka Menin (Hornets) Vulcan, AB

4. Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC (Uxbridge, ON)

5. Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK)

6. Jacey Grusnick, Barrhaven Scottish (Alliston, ON)

7. Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers (Quebec City, QC)

8. Kelly Russell, captain Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)

9. Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB

10. Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC (Innisfil, ON)

11. Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, QC)

12. Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB)

13. Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)

14. Magali Harvey, Town of Mont-Royal RFC (Quebec City, QC)

15. Julianne Zussman (Castaway Wanderers) Montreal, QC

16. Jane Kirby (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON

17. Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats (Guelph, ON)

18. Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)

19. Cindy Nelles, Belleville Bulldogs (Belleville, ON)

20. Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)

21. Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON)

22. Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC)

23. Frederique Rajotte, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC (Montreal, QC

Unavailable due to Injury:

Latoya Blackwood, Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC)

Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)

International Women's Rugby Series Schedule:

Friday, 9 June - Wellington

Black Ferns vs. Canada

Australia vs. England

Tuesday, 13 June - Christchurch 

Black Ferns vs. Australia

Canada vs. England

Saturday, 17 June - Rotorua 

Black Ferns vs. England

Australia vs. Canada

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