Interim Head Coach Shaun Allen has made one change to Canada’s Senior Women’s starting XV for Tuesday’s Women’s Rugby Super Series (WRSS) game against the USA.
After grabbing a try in Friday’s 52-17 win over England, Katie McNally is rewarded with a start on the wing in place of Frédérique Rajotte who moves to the bench.
“We did a very good job on attack against England,” Allen said. “The understanding and commitment shown by the squad was exactly what we were looking for in our first fixture. Against the USA we are looking for the players to perform their specific roles and to improve on the refinements that we have worked on in training and our review.”
Carolyn McEwen, Mary-Jane Kirby and DaLeaka Menin all start in the front row with Captain Laura Russell and Kayla Mack forming a dynamic lock duo. Barbara Mervin, Latoya Blackwood and Friday’s player of the match Jacey Murphy start in the back row.
Edmonton’s Chelsea Guthrie, who grabbed her first test try in Friday’s win, starts at scrum-half with Emily Belchos at No. 10. McNally is joined on the wing by Vancouver’s Brittany Waters with Andrea Burk and Alex Tessier forming the centre duo. Montreal’s Julianne Zussman starts at fullback.
With three games in just eight days, the WRSS presents a very quick turnaround between games. Canada plays its final game of the tournament on Saturday having played its opener on Friday.
“We have had a limited time to practice between games,” Allen said. “The priority has been on recovery and making sure that all the players are able to play at as close to 100 percent as possible. In our training we were looking at small improvements in some key areas that the coaches and players identified through video.”
After a seven-try win over England, Canada sits atop the WRSS standings while in the other game Friday, the USA lost 19-13 to France. Canada also moved up to fourth in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings after their emphatic victory over England.
Canada faced the USA last year in Red Deer, AB, with the visitors collecting a 36-28 win in a fast paced affair. Canada is 15-18 all-time against the USA.
“We know that they are a very resilient group,” Allen said. “They put in a strong, gutsy performance against France and had a chance to win at the end of the game. The defensive performance that they put it, specifically at the end of the first half inside their 22, showed that they will be a difficult team to score on. They have a number of players that can be very threatening if we allow them to establish their rhythm.”
Additionally, Canada’s Maple Leafs will begin its two-game series against the USA Collegiate All-Americans. Captained by Lori Josephson, the team features a mix of players with test experience as well as some of Canada’s rising young stars.
“The Maple Leafs Series against the USA Collegiate All-Americans is very important to both the short term and long term success of the Women’s Senior program,” Allen said. “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to have the senior and Maple Leaf groups in the same location at the same time and to share coaching and management resources.
“The USA CAA will be a strong side and will give the players representing the Maple Leafs a great opportunity to show what they are capable of under international pressure.”
Tuesday’s Maple Leafs game kicks off at 1pm ET/10am PT while Canada vs. USA begins at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Both games can be seen LIVE on www.therugbychannel.tv. A subscription is required but the first 30 days are FREE.
Canada’s Roster vs. USA (Name, club, hometown):
1. Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC
2. Mary-Jane Kirby (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
3. DaLeaka Menin (Hornets) Vulcan, AB
4. Laura Russell captain (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
5. Kayla Mack (Wild Oats) Saskatoon, SK
6. Barbara Mervin (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON
7. Latoya Blackwood (St. Anne de Bellevue/Toulouse) Montreal, QC
8. Jacey Murphy (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
9. Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB
10. Emily Belchos (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON
11. Katie McNally (Castaway Wanderers) Guelph, ON
12. Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
13. Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB
14. Brittany Waters (Castaway Wanderers) Vancouver, BC
15. Julianne Zussman (Castaway Wanderers) Montreal, QC
16. Julia Folk (UVic/Castaway Wanderers), Regina, SK
17. Demi Stamatakis (SFU) Vancouver, BC
18. Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
19. Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON
20. Fabiola Forteza (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
21. Brianna Miller (SABRFC), Pointe-Claire, QC
22. Anais Holly (TMRRFC) Montreal, QC
23. Frédérique Rajotte (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC