JOHANNESBURG – The countdown has begun for the biggest netball event ever to hit Johannesburg – the Spar Quad Series involving Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.
Australia (1), New Zealand (2), England (3) are all ranked in the top three in world netball.
The South African leg of the series will be played at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena, with the opening match, at 7pm on Thursday, January 25, when the Proteas go up against New Zealand's Silver Ferns.
On Sunday, January 28, the Silver Ferns play the Australian Diamonds, at midday, and that will be followed at 2.30pm by the battle of the flowers – the Proteas and England's Roses.
New Zealand have chosen a strong 14-player touring squad for the series in England and South Africa.
In London, their only match is against the England Roses on Saturday, January 20. Hence they have plenty of time to recover before the South African leg.
“This is a big tour in terms of the travel with short turnarounds between flying from New Zealand, playing in England and then on to South Africa,’’ said Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby.
“For that reason, we are travelling with 14. This will enable us to continue to develop and build depth and combinations across the squad.
“The Commonwealth Games (April) is the immediate focus but we’re also mindful the 2019 Netball World Cup is not that far away either and the more time we get with our athletes and continuing to fine-tune their readiness and preparation is all part of the bigger picture.
The three matches in Johannesburg will provide netball fans with some of the best netball they have ever seen, and Netball South Africa (NSA) are urging supporters rally behind the Proteas.
“We want to fill Ellis Park and give our players the support they deserve,” said new NSA President Cecilia Molokwane.
“Our Proteas are getting closer and closer to New Zealand and Australia, and with the backing of the South African public, we can do it.”
African News Agency (ANA)