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Long aiming to get the balance right

Canada women's rugby  head coach Johnathan Long has named a strong lineup for the first of two tests against the USA in Florida. See Meghan Mutrie's video buildup here.

The US won a narrow gameover their northern neighbours when they last played each other at the Nations Cup in August.

Since then, the Americans have been dormant in international play, but Canada split a pair of tests with third-ranked France when they toured there in November.

Canada finished a disappointing fourth in the Nations Cup, but head coach Long used the tournament as a tool for selection and to give players an opportunity to experience the pressure playing international rugby.

The Nations Cup was always about creating opportunities for players to play internationally. That was our whole ethos of the tournament, and we were able to incorporate it so that at the end of the week, we had a squad that can play international rugby and succeed. As a coach, my personal focus was to see players start games that might normally only come off the bench, so no one could say that players werent given a chance.

There have been a few personnel changes as faces have come in and out of the squad from the wider training group, but with only 7 months remaining until the four-year end point, the names are starting to narrow down, says Long.

Now were starting to select the right team for the right game. Thats my job now; to make sure selection is right and the balance is right for the team to perform. But if the balance isnt right on Tuesday, there are girls here that can come in and perform. Thats where our strength is, we have the depth and the game breakers in all positions whereas before we were limited.

Long has selected a side with the 2010 World Cup in mind, but also capable of a win on Tuesday.

Were always trying to build on our performance, but with the mentality of winning as well. Its a matter of juggling those two winning and performing so that the players gain the confidence of knowing they played well and we can take that into August.

Starting XV: 1. Leslie Cripps 2. Leslie McKenzie 3. Marlene Donaldson 4. Marie-Eve Brindamour-Carignan 5. Megan Gibbs 6. Barbara Mervin 7. Gillian Florence 8. Kelly Russell 9. Laura Stoughton 10. Anna Schnell 11. Cheryl Phillips 12. Sarah Ulmer 13. Mandy Marchak 14. Julianne Zussman 15. Ashley Patzer Reserves: 16: Kim Donaldson 17. Corinne Jacobsen 18. Paige Burdett 19. Jen Kish 20. Julia Sugawara 21. Andrea Burk 22. DArcyPatterson

Match: January 12th 3pm KO