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The South African national netball team's head coach Elize Kotze says she is not content to remain top of the amateur rankings and will use their upcoming tour to Jamaica to try and close the gap between the two sides.
Ranked fifth in the world, the Proteas take on their professional hosts, ranked one spot above them in fourth position in a three-Test series in June.
“We've done well to be the top-ranked amateur side in the world but we need to start competing against the top four,” said Kotze during a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“It will be a big test to see where we are against a professional team and what we need to do to become stronger.”
The Jamaican side, known for their height in goal, presents a tough task for the South Africans.
“It will be a challenge to match their height advantage in the goal circle,” admitted Kotze.
“We will have to play clinical, attacking netball to match them and keep ball in hand.”
“If we can play flawlessly and capitalise on ball possession, we can stay in the game.”
“But against a team like Jamaica, it will be very difficult to turn over the ball in their goal circle because of their height advantage.”
Kotze said it was fortunate that the tour consisted of three Tests as it afforded them the opportunity to make adjustments between each match.
“It gives us time not only to improve during the tour, but to counter their tactics and to analyse them as we go along.”
“We already have lots of material on them which we will use when we go into our first camp on May 11th.”
While the Proteas will attend two further camps in early June, before the crunch series begins on the 14th, Kotze hoped to have the team finalised at their May training session.
While their amateur status presented problems for senior players to make long-term commitments, good news for Kotze was that SA captain Amanda Mynhardt, who is playing club netball in New Zealand, would definitely be available for selection.
“I cannot imagine taking on New Zealand without Amanda's experience,” Kotze admitted.
“She is in top condition and has made it clear that her first priority is still with South Africa.”
“She has sent us her dates of availability and Amanda will be joining our second camp on June 6th.”
The Proteas have a busy international schedule ahead with a Test against Northern Ireland in July before they compete in a Quad Test Series in Australasia against the top three nations – Australia, New Zealand and England – later in the year.
They will be back in New Zealand in November for the World Netball Series which features the top six international sides. – Sapa