Three uncapped players have been included in the starting lineup when the Springbok Women start their 2023 season with a Test against Canada, with another possible debutant named on the bench, but interim coach Louis Koen has also named an experienced core of 19 players who played at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year.
Dumke was amongst those and said the experience gained has motivated them to start the new season on a positive note.
“Yes, for sure we are excited,” she said. “We always are when we have the privilege and opportunity to play for our country and this match against Canada will be the perfect way to start the season.”
Only team captain Nolusindiso Booi was part of the Springbok Women squad that last played against Canada in 2013 and for Dumke, the first encounter with the fourth ranked team in the world will be an exciting one.
“They are amongst the top sides in the world and had a very good World Cup in New Zealand,” said Dumke. “This is the ideal way for us to start actually, as it will be a good measure for us as we start our own journey to be amongst the top teams in the game.”
Dumke realises the lack of competitive matches in the lead up to the tournament in Spain – the hosts will face the USA play in an earlier match on Saturday – will provide the South Africans with additional motivation in the next two weekends.
“We are a team with some new players, with a number of younger players and coach Louis (Koen) is also bringing in new ideas,” she said. “That makes it even more exciting as there is new energy. Everyone is just so keen to play and lay down a marker.”
Dumke is also excited about added responsibilities in her role on the field: “Not much has changed in that I will still be the Lusanda the fetcher, who tries to slow the ball down and make turnovers. I am also now expected to run with the ball a bit more and be amongst the backs, so that is an exciting development for me.”
Lochner, who will become a dual international on Saturday, said the experience of representing South Africa in netball has helped ease her nerves a bit.
"Yes, I know the feeling of going out there against teams from another country and what emotions singing the national anthem brings, but this will be a very different sporting code and hence, exciting experience for me,” said Lochner.
“I dare to say that rugby is more about teamwork than netball as fifteen players need to be on the same page. I cannot for one moment think about myself, as I have a job to do on the field and that job is not about me, but about my contribution to the team.”
Lochner comes into Test rugby with no provincial experience, but she is confident that she will cope with the physical demands of the game.
"In netball catch and pass are very important, and the same applies in rugby, with the added advantage of running with the ball. Not only run with the ball, but the faster the better,” she explained with a smile.
“I am a huge Steven Kitshoff fan and the way he approaches the game is something I would love to emulate. He hardly makes mistakes and one can see his enjoyment of playing.
“And as a lock, what is there not to love about Eben Etzebeth. His team always come first, but he imposes himself personally into every contest. That is something I can relate to.”
The match will be streamed live via the Spanish Rugby Union website (https://ferugby.tv/).