Cape Town - The netball Proteas have big hearts and are not afraid of taking on the best in the world says head coach Norma Plummer.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s SANZEA Quad series match between South Africa and New Zealand at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena, Plummer said she was exceptionally proud of the way the team had played against Australia in the London leg of the series last weekend. The Australian Diamonds beat the Proteas by 54 goals to 50 – their narrowest winning margin over South Africa.
Plummer said she was very proud of the way the team performed, given the little amount of preparation time they had before leaving for London.
“We had one and a half days to re-select the squad and about three days of training before we flew out,” she said.
“So I was a little apprehensive, but about the day before we played, I felt we had got back to where we left off in September. I was blown away by their performance, because they had been training by themselves. It gives you heart as a coach to see that commitment.”
New Zealand coach Janine Southby said the Silver Ferns were definitely not taking the match against South Africa on Thursday lightly, particularly after their performance in London.
“We saw, during the Quad Series matches in New Zealand and Australia last year that South Africa were showing signs of growing confidence. Any team that is playing in this competition is a real threat, ” said Southby.
New Zealand captain Katrina Grant said the Proteas had nothing to lose in their match on Thursday.
“This makes them a very dangerous side,” she said.
“We will have to bring our A game to make sure we win.”
Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi said the players were feeling good ahead of the South African leg of the Quad Series. They play the Silver Ferns on Thursday and the England Roses on Sunday afternoon.
“We are enjoying the intensity of playing the best teams in world netball,” she said.
“We are excited about the way we played against Australia in London, but what’s past is past, and we have to look ahead to the matches against New Zealand and England this weekend.”
“It is also a good opportunity for us to get good match practice ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.”
Plummer said the Quad Series was of critical importance to the development of the Proteas.
“We can go on playing teams ranked under us and maybe get a win, or we could challenge and get the games they need – the intensity and the pressure of playing the best. For us, it’s been fantastic,” she said.
Netball South Africa (NSA) Chief Executive Blanche de la Guerre said NSA welcomed the opportunity to host the Quad Series because it was proof that South Africa was capable of hosting a cup tournament.
“We are very excited that we are sold out for the matches on Sunday,” she said.
SANZEA Quad Series Programme:
Thursday January, 25 - 19:00 South Africa v New Zealand
Sunday January, 28 - 12:00 Australia v New Zealand
14:00 South Africa v England