July 14, 2024

Mali to debut as Grain and Nyanda earn Springbok Women recalls

CAPE TOWN – Springbok Women interim head coach Louis Koen handed Unathi Mali a first start for the national team at wing and recalled outside backs Veroeshka Grain and Piwokuhle Nyanda to the side to face Kenya at UWC Rugby Club in Cape Town on Saturday.

Mali represented the Springbok Women’s Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens in previous years, but the Bulls Daisies player will earn her first Test cap on Saturday, with experienced DHL WP prop Babalwa Latsha named as captain – a position she has held in nine previous Tests.

Grain made her debut for the Springbok Women in 2013, but last played for the team in 2021, in the two-Test series against Kenya. The DHL WP speedster has also excelled for the national sevens team, making her last appearance at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens in 2022.

Nyanda, a utility back for the Mastercard Golden Lions Women, made her international debut against Spain in 2019 and added two more caps against Scotland in the same season. She was not part of the national squad again after the COVID break, but solid performances in the 2023 Women’s Premier Division earned her an invite to camp.

Micke Gunter, who represented South Africa at last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, also earned a recall for the first time this year.

Two players who will reach significant milestones if called upon have been named amongst the replacements. Nolusindiso Booi has recovered from an Achilles injury and can join Zenay Jordaan (36 tests) as the most capped player in Springbok Women history.

Sinelitha Noxeke will make her Test debut if she gets game time. The 21-year-old Bulls Daisies loose forward will also make history alongside her mother, Zolisa Noxeke, as the first mother and daughter combination to play for the Springbok Women.

Noxeke senior represented the team in nine tests as a centre between 2004 and 2006, and played international netball for South Africa.

Libbie Janse van Rensburg looks set to improve on her record as the leading points’ scorer for the Springbok Women. The Bulls Daisies flyhalf, who was also named vice-captain for the match, has scored 144 points so far in her Test career.

It will be the second time the Springbok Women will face Kenya this year, with their previous clash in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup in Madagascar ending in a 48-0 victory to the South Africans.

Janse van Rensburg, Byrhandrè Dolf, Jakkie Cilliers, Lusanda Dumke, Danelle Lochner and Sinazo Mcatshulwa are the only players who will be in the starting line-up again from that win.

Koen said the Test will provide some clarity on their progress since the African Cup and their readiness for next month’s WXV 2 tournament.

“We prepared well over the last couple of months, with alignment camps and the current assembly, where we had the full complement of players earmarked for the WXV tournament,” said Koen.

“We had two good weeks in Potchefstroom and Johannesburg, and we are looking forward to this game. Kenya really tested us in the Africa Cup, and we are expecting another tough encounter from them. It will without doubt be a physical clash.

“Our focus is to be competitive at the WXV, and this match will give us a good idea of our progress towards that goal.”

The match will kick-off at 16h30 on Saturday and will be live streamed on the SA Rugby You Tube channel.

Springbok Women v Kenya Lionesses in Cape Town:

Team: 15. Byrhandrè Dolf, 14. Veroeshka Grain 13. Jakkie Cilliers, 12. Piwokuhle Nyanda, 11. Unathi Mali, 10. Libbie Janse van Rensburg (vice-captain), 9. Rumandi Potgieter, 8. Lusanda Dumke, 7. Catha Jacobs, 6. Nompumelelo Mathe, 5. Danelle Lochner, 4. Sinazo Mcatshulwa, 3. Babalwa Latsha (captain), 2. Roseline Botes, 1. Yonela Ngxingolo. 

Replacements: 16. Micke Gunter, 17. Asithandile Ntoyanto, 18. Amber Schonert, 19. Nolusindiso Booi, 20. Vainah Ubisi, 21. Sinelitha Noxeke, 22. Unam Tose, 23. Mary Zulu. 


Source: SA Rugby. 

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