JOHANNESBURG – Proteas centres Erin Burger and Khanyisa Chawane are the inversions of each other but they harbour the same hopes for South Africa at the upcoming Netball World Cup starting over the weekend.
The 32-year-old Burger will feature at her fourth World Cup while the 23-year-old Chawane will be making her debut in Liverpool.
The World Cup represents a changing of the guards with seasoned campaigners like Burger providing the necessary experience for a South African side harbouring realistic title hopes.
Burger was the first South African to reach 100 caps for her country with more than 115 Tests behind her name while she is the only Proteas player to have played at four World Cups.
Burger was named the Player of the Tournament at the 2011 Netball World Cup in Singapore but believed the class of 2019 had the best chance of challenging for the title.
“It feels like we have shown in the Quad Series that we can take any team on the day, and it will boil down to that at the World Cup,” she said. “It is exciting to think that we don’t have to stand back for any of the top teams in the world,” she added.
The #SPARProteas will be playing on the world’s biggest netball stage, ready to fight for the #NWC2019 crown. It’s hard work, dedication and devotion to the game; as well as South Africa's support that fuels their fight. ⛹️♀️🏆 #SAHeroics #ItsWhatYouPutIn pic.twitter.com/r1jfoqZMHC— Energade (@EnergadeSA) July 11, 2019
Chawane, who made her debut for South Africa in the Quad Series in Australia last year, will be looking to soak up the experience and learn from stalwarts like Burger.
“The experience made me realise how much work I still have to put in as a youngster,” Chawane said. “I did feel like a small fish in a big pond but discovered what I needed to work on.”
Chawane said she saw her status as one of the youngsters in the squad to feed off the experience of senior players like captain Bongi Msomi and Burger.
“Being the youngest it is not about being competitive or to being better than them but about learning, and when they do finish off, you know how to continue,” Chawane said. “I see them as role models, and when things aren’t going well for me, I do sit down with them.
“There is a saying that goes: ‘Never be too proud to ask a winner how to win’.”
The Proteas made history at the start of the year beating England in their backyard for the first time in 19 years with a 48-45 victory in the Quad Series.
They also came painstakingly close to beating New Zealand bowing the knee 62-60 with the match decided on golden goals at the end of extra-time.
The Proteas start their World Cup campaign against Trinidad and Tobago which will be followed by the rest of their pool matches on Saturday and Sunday.@ockertde