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 and her mother, Zolisa Noxeke, will become the second mother/daughter combination to both represent the Springboks, with Sipokazi Jonga and daughter Portia Jonga the first way back in 2009.
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:
15. Byrhandrè Dolf (Bulls Daisies) – 5 caps, 0 points
14. Veroeshka Grain (DHL Western Province) – 12 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
13. Jakkie Cilliers (Bulls Daisies) – 8 caps, 26 points (2 tries, 5 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
12. Piwokuhle Nyanda (Mastercard Golden Lions Women) – 3 tests, 0 points
11. Unathi Mali (Bulls Daisies) – uncapped
10. Libbie Janse van Rensburg (vice-captain, Bulls Daisies) – 15 caps, 144 points (6 tries, 42 conversions, 9 penalty goals, 1 drop goal)
9. Rumandi Potgieter (Bulls Daisies) – 7 caps, 0 points
8. Lusanda Dumke (Bulls Daisies) – 23 caps, 30 points (6 tries)
7. Catha Jacobs (Leicester Tigers Women) – 10 caps, 0 points
6. Nompumelelo Mathe (Sharks Women) – 14 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
5. Danelle Lochner (DHL Western Province) – 5 caps, 5 points (1 try)
4. Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL Western Province) – 22 caps, 40 points (8 tries)
3. Babalwa Latsha (captain, Harlequins Women) – 22 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
2. Roseline Botes (DHL Western Province) – 11 caps, 30 points (6 tries)
1. Yonela Ngxingolo (Bulls Daisies) – 23 caps, 5 points (1 try)
16. Micke Gunter (Bulls Daisies) – 4 caps, 0 points
17. Asithandile Ntoyanto (Bulls Daisies) – 17 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
18. Amber Schonert (Sale Sharks Women) – 2 caps, 0 points
19. Nolusindiso Booi (vice-captain, DHL Western Province) – 35 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
20. Vainah Ubisi (Bulls Daisies) – 4 caps, 0 points
21. Sinelitha Noxeke (Bulls Daisies) – uncapped
22. Unam Tose (Bulls Daisies) – 16 caps, 0 points
23. Mary Zulu (Sharks Women) – 3 caps, 0 points