(Via Rugby Canada)

Langford, BC – Canada’s women’s sevens team head coach John Tait has named his roster for the inaugural Kitakyushu Sevens, the fourth leg in the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Coming off a bronze medal last month at the USA Sevens, Canada enters next weekend’s tournament third in the series standings with 46 points. They are 10 points behind series leaders New Zealand but only four points behind second-place Australia. Canada holds a 10-point cushion on Fiji who sit fourth.

Tait has made two changes to the team that finished third in Las Vegas, bringing veteran Ashley Steacy and Julia Greenshields back into his squad to replace the injured Kayla Moleschi and Caroline Crossley.

Steacy missed the Las Vegas event attending her sister’s wedding while Greenshields returns after featuring in the side for the season’s first two events in Dubai and Sydney.

The loss of Moleschi, who is likely out until the start of next season with a foot injury, is a serious blow to the team. She was recently named Rugby Canada’s 2016 Women’s Sevens Player of the Year and her 22 events played are the most by a Canadian player in HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series history.

Kayla epitomizes our team-first mentality and has been so consistent for us over the past few years,” said Tait. “It definitely will be a big challenge to play without Kayla because she does so many different things really well for us.”

That makes the return of Steacy all the more important, as her versatility and veteran presence will help with the loss of Moelschi.

“Always good to have the experience and calming presence that Ashley brings to the team,” said Tait. “Julia has been in great form and the two of them coming in gives us more speed and versatility in the squad.”

While Moleschi’s skills will be missed – she’s a great passer and ball carrier that commits defenders and gives everyone around her more time and space – Tait isn’t anticipating a big drop off in performance.

“This team has lots of ability and I am excited to see how we match up with some players taking on bigger roles through the second half of the series,” said Tait.

Canada will kick off the second half of the season in Kitakyushu grouped in Pool C with England, Spain and USA.

This is the first time a women’s series event has been held in Japan.

“Japan is a beautiful country but we are on the ground for such a short time so we will be focused on performing well and improving again,” said Tait.  “The team has been sharp, working hard on and off the field and are keen to challenge for the gold in Japan.”

Canada’s Las Vegas Sevens Roster (Name, club, hometown):

Britt Benn – Guelph Redcoats (Napanee, ON)

Hannah Darling – Peterborough Pagans (Warsaw, ON)

Bianca Farella – Town of Mont Royal (Montreal, QC)

Julia Greenshields – Sarnia Saints (Sarnia, ON)

Sara Kaljuvee – Toronto Scottish (Ajax, ON)

Jen Kish – Edmonton Rockers (Edmonton, AB)

Ghislaine Landry (captain) – Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)

Megan Lukan – Unattached (Barrie, ON)

Breanne Nicholas – London St. Georges (Blenheim, ON)

Ashley Steacy – Lethbridge Rugby Club (Lethbridge, AB)

Natasha Watcham-Roy – Hull Volant (Gatineau, QC)

Charity Williams – Markham Irish (Toronto, ON)

Coaching Staff:

Meaghan Howat – Manager

John Tait – Head Coach

Sandro Fiorino – Assistant Coach

Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach

Canada’s Kitakyushu Sevens Day 1 Schedule (Friday, April 21):

Canada vs England at 9:52 pm ET / 6:52 pm PT

Canada vs Spain at 12:36 am / 9:36 pm PT

Canada vs USA at 3:20 am ET / 12:20 am PT

Canada’s Kitakyushu Sevens Day 2 Schedule (Saturday, April 22):