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Two changes to Canada’s Roster to face New Zealand on Thursday

Bryan Kelly

Ahead of Canada’s all-important match against New Zealand at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) in Ireland, Women’s Team head coach Francois Ratier has made two changes to the starting lineup that will take on the Black Ferns Thursday.

In the most prominent matchup on Day 3 of the WRWC, with the No. 3-ranked Canadians taking on the No. 2-ranked Kiwis, Ratier is going with the same forward unit for the third game in a row, while altering a few positions amongst the backs.

Entering the starting fray for the first time in this year’s tournament will be Amanda Thornborough in replacement of Andrea Burk, while Vice-Captain Elissa Alarie moves back to fullback and Julianne Zussman slots in on the wing.

The other four positions amongst the backs remain unchanged, with Lori Josephson getting her third straight start at scrumhalf, while Emily Belchos will once again take the field as Canada’s flyhalf. Alex Tessier is back at centre, while Magali Harvey, who leads the tournament in scoring with 51 points, will once again patrol the wing.

Ratier’s pack is unchanged, with Carolyn McEwan, Laura Russell and DaLeaka Menin making up the front row, while Kayla Mack and Latoya Blackwood will form the second row. The back row trio of Jacey Grusnick, Karen Paquin and captain Kelly Russell round out what has been an impressive forward group through Canada’s first two outings.

Canada, who has yet to give up a point in the WRWC, enters Thursday’s match with nine points in the standings through two games, while the Black Ferns earned the full 10 points in their first two matches. Only the three pool winners and one second-place finisher advance to the semifinals.

Canada and New Zealand have become familiar foes in recent years, yet the Canadians are still in search of their first ever victory over the Black Ferns. The Kiwis are 13-0 all-time in test rugby against Canada.

The Canadians faced New Zealand earlier this year in the opener of the International Women’s Rugby Series, losing 28-16 in Wellington, New Zealand. Last fall, the Black Ferns edged Canada 20-10 in Dublin.

Canada is coming off a 15-0 win over Wales, while New Zealand dismantled Hong Kong by a count of 121-0 in their most recent game. The Black Ferns knocked off Wales 44-12, while Canada beat Hong Kong 98-0 on the tournament’s opening day.

Kick-off between Canada and New Zealand is set for 7am ET/4am PT on Sunday and you can watch live on TSN/RDS.

What Jane Kirby said:

“It’s really nice to be the only team that so far that hasn’t been scored on. It’s always hard with a tournament like this, with the format, with so many days between our turnovers. But the team’s really taken a chance to connect and refocus on our next game and I think that’s really positive.

“We knew that this (game) was the set date for eight months now. They’ve been our highest competition in the past year and it’s been the focus. You can’t be the best team in the world without beating all the other teams, so this is the focus now.”

What Assistant Coach Colette McAuley said:

“I’m happy with the girls. Obviously, we wanted to get a few more things executed against Wales that didn’t go our way. But, their energy is good and we know exactly what the game plan is going into New Zealand. The girls are going to bring it. I’m proud of these girls. They just such a tremendous group of athletes. They’ve worked very hard on the game plan and on our defence. We’re going to go out and play some good rugby and have some fun. New Zealand is going to be a tough opponent and it’s going to be a great game.” 

 

Canada’s Roster to face New Zealand:

 

1. Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby Lake RFC (Vancouver, BC)

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

3. DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)

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

5. Latoya Blackwood, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC)

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. Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON)

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

11. Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers (Montreal, QC)

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

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

14. Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec (Quebec City, QC)

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

16. Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club (Brampton, ON)

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

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

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

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

21. Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids (Edmonton, AB)

22. Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)

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

 

2017 WRWC Staff:

 

Francois Ratier- Head Coach

Shaun Allen- Assistant Coach

Gary Dukelow – Assistant Coach

Colette McAuley- Technical Support

Nicole Crowley- Manager

Shannon Houston – Team Doctor

Brad Curry – Physiotherapist

Jamie McCartney – Strength & Conditioning

Nicole Ainsworth- Athletic Therapist

James Kent- Analyst

Bryan Kelly – Media Manager

Meaghan Howat – Director

 

Canada’s 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Schedule:

 

Canada 98 Hong Kong 0 – Billings Park

Canada 15 Wales 0 – Billings Park

Canada vs. New Zealand – Aug 17 – 7am ET/4am PT – Billings Park

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