This article was originally published on the Globe and Mail website.
Captain Jen Kish has recovered from a knee injury and will lead Canada later this month at the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in London and Amsterdam.
But veteran Kelly Russell will miss both events due to a hand injury and is not expected back until July at the Pan American Games.
Canada ranks second behind New Zealand in the series standings going into the May 15-16 event in London and May 22-23 stop in Amsterdam, the final events of the season.
The Canadian women are looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance on home soil last month when they finished sixth in Langford, B.C. Kish missed the tournament after suffering an injury in Atlanta in March.
The top four in the overall standings qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympics as rugby sevens makes its Games debut.
The London and Amsterdam stops mark the first time Russell has missed a series event.
“She is a massive loss for us with her being so solid on winning restarts and maintaining possession with her excellent ball skills,” Canadian coach John Tait said in a statement Wednesday.
“Having Kish back will certainly help but it will also give some others like Karen Paquin, Sara Kaljuvee, Bianca Farella and Hannah Darling more opportunity to show they can provide the same as well.”
Mandy Marchak and Magali Harvey also rejoin the Canadian squad. Marchak missed out on Langford while Harvey, the 2014 IRB Women’s Player of the Year, is back for the first time since the opening round of the season in Dubai in December.
“Magali has been working really hard at improving all areas of her game, particular her decisions with the ball and work rate off it,” said Tait. “She is in good form right now and she will give us more speed options out wide and at sweep.”
Canada has been drawn in a pool with No. 6 England, No. 7 Russia and South Africa No. 12 in London.
Canada blanked South Africa 47-0 in Langford before falling 12-5 to England in the Cup quarterfinals. Russia, in its first series final, lost to New Zealand in the championship game.
Series leader New Zealand is in a pool with No. 4 France, No. 9 Brazil and No. 10 Spain. Australia, third in the standings, is in a group with No. 5 U.S., No. 8 Fiji and No. 11 China.
New Zealand, which has won all four events so far this season, can book its ticket to Rio de Janeiro if it reaches the quarterfinals in England.
The Kiwi women have won 36 straight games since losing to Australia in the Sao Paulo Sevens final in February 2014.
With only 12 points separating No. 2 Canada and No. 7 Russia, the other three Olympic spots are still up for grabs.
The women’s games will take place at the Twickenham Stoop, home of famed club side Harlequins, but the third-place game and final will shift to nearby Twickenham Stadium, after the pool stages of the men’s HSBC Sevens World Series finish for the day.