JOHANNESBURG - Sharp-shooting Lenize Potgieter has been dishing out bloody noses since the first day she set foot on a netball court.
Her first memories playing netball was on the first day when an eight-year-old Potgieter accidentally struck her best friend on the nose with the ball.
Sixteen years later and Potgieter is landing blows inside the circle with her pin-point accurate shooting for both the Proteas and the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in New Zealand.
Potgieter’s steely-nerved performances in the circle have caught the eye of netball enthusiasts earning her a contract in the professional ANZ Premiership in New Zealand.
Wearing the same bib as one of netball’s most recognisable figures and hailing from the same country has only fuelled the comparisons between the two.
“They often ask me if I know Irene van Dyk and if she is my role model but I’ve never seen her play, I don’t know what she is like,” Potgieter said.
“They say that watching me play, I remind them of Irene, and of course I embrace that compliment.”
Potgieter was one of the standout players during the Proteas’ recent successful tour of Australasia where they claimed a maiden victory in the Netball Quad Series against the England Roses.
In that match, she bowed out with a near perfect 43 goals out of 45 shots for a 96 percent success rate.
In her debut season for Magic, Potgieter finished the campaign as the second highest goal-scorer in the series landing 606 shots.
Potgieter attributes her superb performances inside the shooting circle to iconic Australian coach and Proteas mentor Norma Plummer and the experience of playing in New Zealand.
“My New Zealand coaches and Norma do not put pressure on me at all, they encourage me to shoot on the first attempt even if it is a long-range shot,” Potgieter said. "They place confidence in me, they don’t stress when I have an off game, they are very supportive which really helped my confidence.”
Potgieter has racked up close to 40 international caps and her good form could not have come at a better time for the Proteas as they prepare for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.
The South African is set for another stint in New Zealand in the new year but for now, she will take some time off spending time with her family in Polokwane while trying to stay fit.