Tait looking for consistency from Canada
Canada head coach John Tait has released his 12-player squad that will compete in the IRB Sevens World Series (WSWS) China event in Guangzhou on 30-31 March, as well as a warm-up event in Hong Kong a week earlier.
Tait’s team are in pool B for the China event, alongside Australia (second in the overall WSWS standings with 30 points), Japan and Ireland.
After sixth and seventh place finishes in Dubai and Houston, Canada sit in seventh overall position with 18 points. Coach Tait is looking for an improved performance in China from his side.
“Hong Kong and China are the last tournaments that I really want a hard look at players who are currently outside our core roster to see where everybody stands for World Cup selection,” said John, from the Centre of Excellence in Langford. “We selected our roster based on the players’ performances from the last few tournaments.”
Captaining the squad will once again be Jen Kish, who has been a steady performer on the circuit thus far. Joining Kish will be fellow team stalwarts Mandy Marchak, Ashley Steacy, Kelly Russell and Ghislaine Landry. Representing Quebec will be Elissa Alarie, Magali Harvey, Julianne Zussman and Karen Paquin.
Injuries present opportunities
Canada will be without the services of Bianca Farella and Kayla Moleschi, who have been sidelined due to respective wrist and lower-body injuries.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries to the group recently and with those two girls out it gives us the opportunity to get a closer look at some other players to see how they step up and compete at this level,” said Tait. “A few players on the Maple Leafs Black Team played very well in Las Vegas and were also in contention for Houston; they deserve the opportunity.”
The squad will also feature British Columbia’s Jessica Dovanne, Ontario’s Cheryl Phillips and Manitoba’s Amanda Thornborough. Non-travelling reserves will include Julia Greenshields and Brittany Waters.
Canada will continue their extensive training and preparation this week at the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence and the Canadian Sports Institute before leaving for Hong Kong on Tuesday, 19 March.
“The weight we’re putting on this tour is that we need to go there and perform well in each game,” said Tait. “We’ve had some up and down performances this year and we haven’t gotten the results because of that.”
Canada will play a maximum of four games in Hong Kong and then travel via rail from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China on Tuesday March 26th and begin preparation for the significant weekend’s event. China, along with London and Amsterdam, are the remaining WSWS events before the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Russia on 28-30 June.
“We want to finish strong in the World Series to build confidence towards the World Cup in June; I’m excited by our improvement and looking forward to these tournaments,” said Tait.
Canada women’s sevens squad for China: Elissa Alarie, Jessica Dovanne, Magali Harvey, Jennifer Kish © Ghislaine Landry, Mandy Marchak, Karen Paquin, Cheryl Phillips, Kelly Russell, Ashley Steacy, Amanda Thornborough, Julianne Zussman