Johannesburg - The head coach of the Proteas national netball team Norma Plummer says the Proteas have a lot of work to do in the SANZEA Quad Series, involving Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.
Speaking shortly before the team left for London for the fourth leg of the series, Plummer said Australia and New Zealand had played a number of Tests since the second and third legs in September last year.
"England have also played a number of Tests, so the other three teams are match ready," said Plummer.
"That is a bit concerning, but I was very pleased with the training camp we have just had. The players had worked hard on their individual programmes during the break, and their fitness levels were good. But it is disappointing that we weren’t able to arrange any international matches.
"We will be playing against the Australian Diamonds on Saturday. They are the reigning world champions, and it is important for us to be as competitive as possible against them," she said.
"We are steadily closing the gap between us and the two top teams, Australia and New Zealand.
"We play the New Zealand Silver Ferns and the England Roses in Johannesburg the following week and we are working towards good results in both matches."
South Africa beat England 54-51 in their last Quad Series encounter, at Invercargill, New Zealand.
Plummer said the Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast were just around the corner and the players had a lot to do ahead of the Games.
"We are planning matches against Australian league teams ahead of the Games. We need some tough practice matches to get the players into the right frame of mind," she said.
"We are lucky that seven of our best players will be playing in tough overseas leagues between the Quad Series and the Commonwealth Games. Two will play in Australia, one in New Zealand and four in England. That extra experience will be invaluable for the whole team."
The Proteas leave for London on Tuesday for the English leg of the Quad Series, where they will play the Australian Diamonds on Saturday, January 20.
The four teams then travel to South Africa for the South African leg, which will be played at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena.
The Proteas will play the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Thursday, January 25 and the England Roses on Sunday, January 28.
Protea netball team:
Bongiwe Msomi (captain), Karla Pretorius (vice-captain), Erin Burger, Izette Griesel, Maryke Holtzhausen, Danelle Lochner, Phumza Maweni, Precious Mthembu, Lenize Potgieter, Shadine van der Merwe, Ina-Marie Venter, Zanele Vimbela