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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Springboks welcome underdog tag in women’s Rugby Cup opener

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Cape Town – Being the underdogs going into their Rugby Cup opening match against France isn’t bothering the Springbok Women much, in fact, it’s a tag they’re embracing.

That much was made clear by No 8 Aseza Hele as the South Africans prepare for their meeting with France in Auckland on Saturday (3.15am kick-off, SA time).

The fact that England, who are on a 26-Test winning streak, France, the traditional dark horse, and Women’s Cup first-timers Fiji are in Pool C with South Africa resulted in a fairly low-key introduction of the team in Green and Gold at the welcoming event in Auckland. But that’s what they prefer, said Hele.

“We would like to come into the tournaments as the underdogs. Others might not rank or rate us to win the Cup, but we know what we are capable of,” said the 27-year-old player from Boland Dames and Hermanus Rugby Club.

“We are a sisterhood here and we support each other. We know each other’s stories and journeys and know what it took to make it to this point, so we will definitely support each other and would implore the people back home to do the same.

“We want to show to them what we are capable of, but for them to see that, they must get up early for the match against France.”

Hele, who has played 13 Tests for her country, said that they should be good this weekend if they just stick to the plan.

“We are here to play for you, the people of South Africa, after all,” said Hele.

“I have never played against France, but I have watched enough footage of them now. I honestly think we will be able to put out a very competitive match against them.

“As underdogs, we have the freedom to go out and play. We believe in what we are doing and if we get the game plan right come Saturday, we will be doing good.”

Hele went on to say that the won’t be deterred by the wet conditions they’ve experienced so far.

“We have no choice but to adapt and if we do so we will be Okay. We trained against Scotland last Saturday and it was very wet,” she said.

“We battled in the beginning, but once we changed to suit the conditions, we did well. I personally prefer it when the game is tighter, as I love to carry the ball and take it up. If you can do that and keep the ball, it is good momentum we can use to play from.

“I will bring my best, definitely. We will accept the challenge for this game.”

@WynonaLouw

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