Canadian coach Francois Ratier has made five changes to his starting roster to face Samoa on Tuesday at the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The Canadian women opened the 12-team tournament with a 31-5 victory over Spain last Friday. Samoa was thumped 65-3 by England in the other Pool A game.
Canada will also be looking to pile up the points on the Pacific Islanders before its expected showdown with England for first place in the group. The three pool winners and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.
“From their game against England we know that they’re an incredibly physical team and strong in the tackle area and we need to match them physically to be successful on Tuesday,” Ratier said of Samoa in a statement.
Ratier has replaced his entire front row with Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid, Mary-Jane Kirby and Olivia DeMerchant coming in for Laura Russell, Kim Donaldson and Hilary Leith.
Jacey Murphy starts at blindside flanker for Barbara Mervin, who is out of the tournament after breaking a bone in her hand against Spain.
There is just one change in the backs with winger Brittany Waters replacing Julianne Zussman.
Resting the front row against the rough-and-tumble Samoans will preserve the trio for the crucial test against England on Saturday. And by keeping the backline mostly intact, Ratier retains his offensive weapons for the hunt for points against Samoa.
Cindy Nelles has joined the squad to replace Mervin but will not dress Tuesday.
“The team has a great energy right now and, other than Barbara, there’s no serious injuries, so I think we’re ready to face Samoa on Tuesday and play a strong game,” said Ratier.
Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Mary-Jane Kirby, Highland RFC, Brampton, Ont.; Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen, Mapledale, N.B.; Maria Samson, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Latoya Blackwood, St. Anne de Bellevue, Montreal; Jacey Murphy, Aurora Barbarians, Alliston, Ont.; Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Kelly Russell (capt.), Toronto Nomads, Bolton, Ont.; Stephanie Bernier, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Quebec; Emily Belchos, Markham Irish RFC, Barrie, Ont.; Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club, Vancouver; Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC, North Vancouver; Mandy Marchak, Capilano RFC, Winnipeg; Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club, Trois-Rivieres, Que.
Hilary Leith, Capilano RFC, Vancouver; Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads, Bolton, Ont.; Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians, Uxbridge, Ont.; Kayla Mack, Wild Oats RFC, Saskatoon; Julianne Zussman, Town of Mount Royal RFC, Montreal; Amanda Thornborough, Brandon Barbarians RFC, Brandon, Man.; Jessica Dovanne, Velox RFC, Victoria.