Proteas stars out to dazzle the United Kingdom

netball14 October 2023 09:08| © SuperSport
By:Busisiwe Mokwena
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© Gallo Images

South Africa can pride itself on having a great deal of talent in netball. Having nine players in the United Kingdom’s Netball Super League is evidence that the number-one-ranked netball country in the continent is a place to find talent and contribute to exciting competition globally.

Over the last few years, South Africa has exported several players to compete in other leagues, and for the 2024 season, this will be the highest number of South African players competing in the NSL.

Although Netball South Africa have initiated contracting players, the country still doesn’t have a professional league.

Having this many players in a competitive league that runs slightly longer than the Telkom Netball League in the country offers national team selectors a big pool of players to choose from. The number benefits South Africa in the long run but more so, the players who get to play their favourite sport for a living.

This is especially true with the relaunch of the NSL in 2025, with England Netball piggybacking off the England Roses' successful Netball World Cup appearance to grow the sport. At the same time, thanks to the number of Proteas players in the English league, South Africa will also benefit.

Saracens Mavericks

Ine-Mari Venter - The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, where the Mavericks are based, has become Venter’s second home. The goal shooter joined the club in England in 2021 after a jaunt Down Under. The former Gauteng Jaguars player has been a solid member of the team since she joined and her reliability in the shooting circle has made her one of the most valuable players for the team.

Cardiff Dragons

Khanyisa Chawane - The midcourt player used her first World Cup experience in 2019 to bag her first overseas contract with Team Bath, however, due to the vicious coronavirus in 2020, she opted to return home to be with family. Her incredible performance for Free State Crinums' silver-medal-winning season in the Telkom Netball League and the World Cup grabbed the attention of the Wales-based team.

London Pulse

Nichole Taljaard - The goal attack’s lively and animated moves on the court, especially in the shooting circle, make her an electrifying player. Her performance in Cape Town got many interested and excited to see her play. She played in all eight of South Africa’s games in the World Cup, where the team finished sixth. Her first senior cap came in Birmingham, where she replaced an injured Lenize Potgieter at the Commonwealth Games. Taljaard is part of the South African team that finished on the podium at the Fast5 World Series as the team came back with a silver medal. Her presence will be key in sending back Pulse to the top four and hopefully repeating their feat from the 2023 season where they reached the grand finale for the first time.

Strathclyde Sirens

Owethu Ngubane - 2023 seems to be Ngubane’s best year yet in her netball career. The goal attack and goal shooter earned her first senior national cap in January during the Quad Series.

Ngubane made her maiden appearance in Cape Town against the world number one side, Australia. The Gauteng Golden Fireballs player replaced an injured Lenize Potgieter at the World Cup in August and made her World Cup debut in South Africa’s 69-28 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Her performances in the two games in the global competition were enough to attract Strathclyde Sirens’ director Karen Atkinson’s attention. The Sirens will be the first team she plays for in the NSL.

Manchester Thunder

Shadine van der Merwe - The experienced wing defence and goal defence player will be making a return to Thunder for a third season. She first joined the side for the 2022 season and saw the club win its third league title. Shasha was also part of the team’s leadership group last season when the team finished with a bronze medal in the competition.

Elmere van der Berg - The lanky goal shooter missed out on playing in the UK in the 2023 season after Leeds Rhinos had to terminate her contract following an injury. Berg, who made her debut for senior national in Birmingham debuted in the World Cup in Cape Town and was reliable for the Proteas in the shooting circle.

Loughborough Lightning

Nicola Smith - Smith was named in the Leeds Rhinos squad for the 2023 NSL season where she had signed a six-month playing contract with the English side. However, she was not able to move due to injury. She joins the team following Zanele Vimbela’s departure from the side. Her defensive prowess will be key in guiding the two-time champions to the top again.

Severn Stars

Sigi Burger - Burger is a seasoned campaigner in the NSL. She has been playing in the UK since 2018 when she first joined Surrey Storm, where she spent two seasons before moving to London Pulse for the 2020 season. She was also on the books of Leeds Rhinos before she signed for the University of Worcester-based team towards the end of 2022. Having appeared in 18 matches in the 2023 season, she scored an impressive 672 goals for Stars which finished the season in sixth position, an improvement from 11th in the previous season.

Lefebre Rademan - The goal shooter returns to the United Kingdom after playing in the Telkom Netball League in 2023. Previously with the London Pulse and Celtic (Cardiff) Dragons for the 2022 season, she suffered an ACL injury while playing for the national team at the Commonwealth Games which also ruled her out of a second season with the Wales-based team, where she was named the Players' Player of the Season and Coaches' Player of the Season. Although she missed out on playing in the World Cup on home soil, she will likely contribute successfully to Stars.