The SA Netball Proteas will be in action against Namibia on Tuesday. Photo: @Netball_SA on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Expanding the team’s depth will be of paramount importance for the Proteas Netball side at the Diamond Challenge in Seshego, Limpopo between November 27 and December 1.

National coach Norma Plummer has built a strong core but the team has come unstuck at times when some of the stalwarts were unavailable due to injury.

The Diamond Challenge would provide her to add more depth to her stocks with the South African President’s team also featuring in the five-day competition.

This will be crucial ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool which is only eight months away.

South African captain Bongi Msomi stressed the importance of giving some of the country’s promising talent a taste of international netball.

“I am very happy for the platform the Diamond Challenge will act as for all the young players, it is very important for them to get exposed to playing teams from other countries,” Msomi said.

The Proteas will take on Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the President’s XII team that will be led by Jessica Khomo.

Plummer said the week’s competition will provide South Africa with the ideal platform to blood more players that can feature for the national side.

“We need to develop the next tier of athletes with international experience as they are the feeder team to the Proteas and in case of injuries the Presidents XII will give us replacement options,” Plummer said.

“We will respect all teams we play in the Diamond Challenge and we will be working hard to win these games confidently.”

The Proteas will be looking to get back to winning ways after a sub-par display in the Quad Series involving Australia, New Zealand and England.

They suffered two heavy defeats against Australia and New Zealand before bouncing back with a strong showing against England in their final match of the series.

They lost by 17 points to the Australian Diamonds before suffering a 24-goal defeat to New Zealand.

The Proteas will be looking to build on their strong performance against England where they lost by a mere three points.

The team will be bolstered by the return of Erin Burger, who has been one of the stalwarts of the team over the last few years.

Meanwhile, South African goal-shooting sensation Lenize Potgieter will celebrate a special homecoming when she turns out in her 50th match for the Proteas against Namibia today.

“To be honest, as a youngster growing up there I never thought I will play for the national side one day,” Potgieter said. “I didn’t think I had a chance. It felt like no one would spot a young girl from Polokwane. There is lots of talent here.

“It will be so special to play my 50th in my hometown, something I wouldn’t have foreseen. I have spent so many hours of my life practising on the courts here.”

The Proteas Diamond Challenge fixtures are:

Today: South Africa v Namibia (3pm)

Tomorrow: South Africa v Botswana (7pm)

Thursday: South Africa v SA President’s XII (3pm)

Friday: South Africa vs Zambia (5pm)

Saturday: Zimbabwe vs South Africa (5pm)

@Ockertde


The Star

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