Springbok Women head coach Louis Koen named a squad of 28 players (16 forwards and 12 backs) to travel to Antananarivo, where South Africa will be up against Cameroon, Kenya and Madagascar for the title as champions of Africa.

Mabenge, Dumke and Solontsi were amongst the 16 players that travelled to Madagascar last year, where an undefeated spell against the same opponents in Stade Maki also saw the Bok Women secure their place in the inaugural WXV 2 tournament.

Only Dumke played in WXV though as both Mabenge – the top scorer in Madagascar last year with 30 points – and Solontsi missed a large chunk of the season due to injury, but earned a recall with stellar performances in the Women’s Premier Division, which kicked off a few weeks ago.

Koen included only one uncapped player, Sikholiwe Mdletshe, with the Free State Women outside back a likely starter on this tour after not being capped on the recent tour to Europe.

Amber Schonert, who made her Test debut in Madagascar last year, has earned a recall, having missed out on selection for the European tour, and the Sale Sharks Women’s player will be joined by Lindelwa Gwala (Ealing Trailfinders) as the only players plying her trade outside the country.

Koen will be without the Harlequins trio of Babalwa Latsha, Danelle Lochner and Aseza Hele, all of whom played in their last Test, against the USA in London last month, while Catha Jacobs (Leicester Tigers) is still out with injury.

Koen said the inclusion of Gwala and Schonert and the return of Mabenge, Solontsi and Dumke will boost their quest to return undefeated and with RWC qualification secured.

“We want to thank their respective clubs for releasing Lindelwa and Amber while Noma, Sizo and Lusanda all bring World Cup experience and are used to the conditions we will encounter in Madagascar,” said Koen.

On Mdletshe being the only uncapped player, Koen said building squad depth was an imperative when he took over in May last year: “Sne did well on tour, benefitting from the live sessions against Scotland and Wales and she has been a real team player in her contribution to the match day squads, and I know that she will use the opportunity on tour when presented.”

The Springbok Women have won eight of their 12 Tests since Koen took over, but according to the coach, their next three encounters will be the most important.

“We started off as a group a year ago and highlighted stops on our route to England 2025,” said Koen.

“We took a lot of learnings from those opportunities, and we will continue to work hard to improve as a group. We are clear about the end goal, but we will focus on the process and detail in our game that will get us there.

“Our squad have spent a good amount of time together and our coaching staff have confidence that we can use the limited time before next weekend’s first Test to get the team ready.”

The squad assembled in Pretoria on Sunday night and will depart for Madagascar on Thursday.

Springbok Women fixtures (Stade Maki, Antananarivo):
4 May: Cameroon
8 May: Kenya
12 May: Madagascar

The Springbok Women squad for the Africa Cup:

Forwards (16):
Lindelwa Gwala (Ealing Trailfinders Women) – 29 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)
Roseline Botes (DHL Western Province) – 17 Tests, 40 points (8 tries)
Sanelisiwe Charlie (Bulls Daisies) – 16 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
Yoliswa Khuzwayo (Golden Lions Women) – 2 Tests, 0 points
Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen (Golden Lions Women) – 2 Tests, 0 points
Amber Schonert (Sale Sharks Women) – 4 Tests, 0 points
Azisa Mkiva (DHL Western Province) – 6 Tests, 0 points
Nolusindiso Booi (captain, DHL Western Province) – 42 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
Vainah Ubisi (Bulls Daisies) – 11 Tests, 0 points
Anathi Qolo (Bulls Daisies) – 2 Tests, 0 points
Nomsa Mokwai (DHL Western Province) – 5 Tests, 0 points
Samantha Els (unattached) – 1 Test, 0 points
Nompumelelo Mathe (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 17 Tests, 25 points (5 tries)
Sinazo Mcatshulwa (DHL Western Province) – 29 Tests, 45 points (9 tries)
Lusanda Dumke (Bulls Daisies) – 28 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)
Sizophila Solontsi (Bulls Daisies) – 18 Tests, 40 points (8 tries)

Backs (12):
Byrhandrè Dolf (Bulls Daisies) – 11 Tests, 15 points (3 tries)
Chuma Qawe (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 9 Tests, 0 points
Maceala Samboya (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 3 Tests, 5 points (1 try)
Nomawethu Mabenge (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 16 Tests, 65 points (13 tries)
Sikholiwe Mdletshe (Free State Women) – uncapped
Jakkie Cilliers (Bulls Daisies) – 11 Tests, 29 points (2 tries, 5 conversions, 3 penalty goals)
Veroeshka Grain (Sanlam Boland Dames) – 19 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)
Piwokuhle Nyanda (Golden Lions Women) – 10 Tests, 0 points
Aphiwe Ngwevu (Border Ladies) – 18 Tests, 35 points (7 tries)
Mary Zulu (Sharks Women) – 8 Tests, 4 points (2 conversions)
Tayla Kinsey (Sharks Women) – 32 Tests, 48 points (2 tries, 16 conversions, 2 penalty goals)
Rumandi Potgieter (Bulls Daisies) – 15 Tests, 0 points