The South African netball team may be going into the next leg of the Quad Series slightly under-cooked but coach Norma Plummer hopes they can nevertheless continue their stellar form from 2017.
The Proteas start their preparations for the Commonwealth Games in earnest this evening when they face off against defending world champions Australia in London.
They will be going into the clash buoyed by their 2017 form despite the lack of game time ahead of the fourth leg of the series.
Former Australian mentor Plummer said although she was worried about their lack of preparations, she believed her charges would be able to draw inspiration from last year’s performances.
“The last Quad Series was fantastic but the issue we have at the moment is that we haven’t seen the girls since the start of September while England, Australia and New Zealand have been playing Test matches,” Plummer said before their departure for the British capital.
“So I am a bit concerned over the lack of preparation we have had but in saying that we have an extremely strong side and I am pretty hopeful we can try and repeat what we put out in 2017.”
They beat the England Roses to claim their maiden Netball Quad Series victory while they only lost to Australia and New Zealand by less than seven points. The team rounded off the season with a 2-0 series drubbing of Fiji in September.
Plummer said this team has grown in stature with the three top sides in the world now showing respect towards the Proteas.
“Before, we were still slightly being looked at as the underdog and Australia, New Zealand and England weren’t taking us quite so seriously.”
“But now they had to put their best players on against us, and that I feel was a compliment to us.
“We are steadily closing the gap between us and the two top teams, Australia and New Zealand.
Plummer said it was important for the team to hit their straps early in the season to give them the necessary confidence boost before the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
The time for testing combinations is seemingly over as Plummer looks to get her team firing on all cylinders come the quadrennial showpiece.
“We are lucky that seven of our best players will be playing in tough overseas leagues between the Quad Series and the Commonwealth Games,” Plummer said.
“Two will play in Australia, one in New Zealand and four in England. That extra experience will be invaluable for the whole team.”
The Proteas return to Johannesburg for the SA leg of the series to take on world No2 New Zealand on Thursday and the England Roses next Sunday.