Former SPAR Protea captain Elsje Jordaan has been appointed head coach of the national team until the World Cup in Liverpool in 2019. Photo: BackpagePix
DURBAN – The new head coach of the Spar Proteas netball team, Dr Elsje Jordaan, says the side will have to hit the ground running next year to raise the level of play across the board with physicality being a major aspect of the modern international game.

Speaking at a media conference in Johannesburg, Jordaan said that the forthcoming two-leg Quadrangular Series between Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa at the Copper Box Arena in London (January 20-22) and at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena in Johannesburg (January 25-28) would play a critical part in the selection of the teams of these four countries that would go forward to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held in April in Australia.

Bearing all this in mind a Proteas “shadow” squad of 18 players has been selected to assemble for a training camp in Johannesburg from January 10-16 and would be immediately followed by national trials to select the final squad to play in the Quad Series.

Jordaan stressed that the Quad Series would also be the last opportunity for players to impress the selectors ahead of the Games.

“I am not planning to make big changes,” said Jordaan. 

“Some of the players who have been out injured recently have also been invited to the camp and these include Ziggie Burger and Izette Lubbe who have been sidelined by injury but who, we are pleased to report, are back in action.”

The only member of the team that played in last year’s Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand and who is not available for selection this time round is Rochelle Lawson.

Jordaan said that all the players in the squad of 18 invited to attend the January 10 camp were part of the squad groomed and trained by her predecessor, Australian Norma Plummer, and her assistant, Nicole Cusack. 

“Norma and Nicole will be in attendance at both the training camp and the trials,” said Jordaan, “and Norma will continue to take the lead part while I learn as much as I can from her.

“The system is working well and I am not planning any dramatic changes to it.”

Jordaan said conditioning and the building up of upper body strength would be areas she would be focusing on.

“We have seen how our players who have played in professional leagues in England, Australia and New Zealand have improved because of their conditioning and that is what we want to get right with all our players. 

“I plan to work closely with the provincial coaches so that we can raise the level of physicality throughout all the regions.”

Asked about the introduction of some of the younger players into the Commonwealth Games squad, Jordaan said she was aware of this need but she was not altogether sure that the Games were the ideal place to blood young players.

“The Commonwealth Games is the closest netball gets to the Olympics. It is a difficult tournament and players don’t go to the Commonwealth Games just to gain experience.”

The SPAR Proteas squad to attend the training camp in Johannesburg (Jan 10-16): 

Bongiwe Msomi (Centre, WA; capt) Australia; Danelle Lochner (GS, GA) Cape Town; Maryka Holtzhausen (GS, GA, WA) Free State); Erin Burger (C, WA) Pretoria; Lenize Potgieter (GS, GA) Polokwane; Shadine van der Merwe (WD, GD) Pretoria; Ine-Marie Venter (GS, GA) Pretoria; Nadia Uys Pienaar (C, WA) Johannesburg; Phumza Maweni (GK, GD) Cape Town; Karla Mostert-Pretorius (GD, WD) Australia; Precious Mtembo (WD) Durban; Zanele Vimbela (GD, WD) Johannesburg; Kgomotso Hlhabanyeng (WA, C) Rustenburg; Rome Dreyer (C, WA) Potchefstroom; Zane-Marie Pienaar (GD, GK) Pretoria; Izette Griesel (GD, WD) Pretoria; Sigrid Burger (GS, GA) Potchefstroom; Renske Stoltz (GS, GA) Pretoria.

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