New-look SA keen to im­press ahead of World Cup

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VILLIERS­il­[email protected]

THE PROTEAS net­ball team will be look­ing for a shot in the arm when they take on the world’s top three na­tions in the Quad Series start­ing in Eng­land to­day.

The South Africans will take on the world num­ber-one Aus­tralian Di­a­monds in the first match, in Liver­pool this af­ter­noon.

The Proteas will be play­ing matches against the world’s three top-ranked coun­tries: Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Eng­land.

The series will be a good gauge of the Proteas’ strengths and weak­nesses ahead of this year’s World Cup in Liver­pool.

The 15-mem­ber squad gath­ered in Pre­to­ria on Jan­uary 3 for a train­ing camp.

“We’re very ex­cited,” said cap­tain Bongiwe Msomi.

“Our train­ing has been go­ing very well, and we’re very ex­cited about our first match, against Aus­tralia. We see it as a fresh start and we have some new things we will be try­ing out,” she said.

“We are aware that it’s a big year for net­ball, with the World Cup in Liver­pool in July.

“Ev­ery­one is very ex­cited to step out on court and see how we do against the top three teams.”

The Proteas suf­fered two heavy de­feats against Aus­tralia and New Zealand in the last Quad Series.

They lost by 17 points to the Aus­tralian Di­a­monds be­fore a 24-goal de­feat to New Zealand.

The Proteas bounced back with aplomb, com­ing within three points of beat­ing Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pi­ons Eng­land in their fi­nal 2018 Quad Series match.

They have been bat­tling to re­claim the form that saw them beat Eng­land for their maiden Quad Series vic­tory in In­ver­cargill in 2017.

Vet­eran cen­tre-court player Erin Burger makes a wel­come re­turn to the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a ca­reer-threat­en­ing ill­ness which kept her out of the team for most of last year.

South African coach Norma Plum­mer said the team has done well to blood a few new play­ers and build their base.

“The team are train­ing well here in Liver­pool,” Plum­m­mer said.

“Since the last Quad Series the young play­ers are prov­ing their worth, it’s great to have some play­ers back from in­jury and in gen­eral the whole move­ment of the team is much bet­ter and we look for­ward to giv­ing the Aus­tralians a good run for their money, and hope­fully we will re­turn to South Africa with a win from this Quad Series.”

Proteas squad: Erin Burger, Si­grid

Burger, Khany­isa Chawane, Rome Dreyer, Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni, Tshina Mdau, Bongiwe Msomi, (capt), Lenize Pot­gi­eter, Karla Pre­to­rius, Monique Rey­necke, Renske Stoltz, Sha­dine van der Merwe, Ine-Marie Ven­ter, Zanele Vim­bela

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