Plummer happy with Proteas’ readiness

netball20 January 2023 09:08| © SuperSport
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Norma Plummer © Gallo Images

Spar Proteas coach, Norma Plummer is pleased with the improvement she has seen in her charges in the recent days as the teams gear up for the Quad Series. South Africa will take on England, Australia, and New Zealand in the tournament which will take place in the 2023 Netball World Cup venue, the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 21-25 January. Although South Africa will be hosting the event for the third time, it will be the first time that the Mother City hosts.

The senior national team has been in camp since 9 January preparing for the competition and the World Cup winning coach, is happy with what she has been seeing.

“I think the improvement is coming daily, so it’s more about the intensity and the pressure. We have had some really strong training sessions that actually have been exposing that and that is what we need to maintain because we are not going to be playing bottom ranked teams. We are playing the top three in the world, so we need to be able to sustain,” says Plummer.

Putting up a brilliant performance in the competition will be key to the players’ confidence leading up to the World Cup. However, this will be a tough ask as South Africa has only won two matches in the series since it was launched. Plummer led the side to two victories over the England Roses in September 2017 and January 2019. The Proteas have also pushed both the Roses and Silver Ferns to extra time.

Although playing in the final match of the Quad Series would be the perfect way to start the year, Plummer says it will be important to take each game as it comes.

“It would be fantastic but I am not looking ahead like that. I just want the team to perform, I just need to see them being able to put things together so that we can build toward the World Cup. If we get a couple of wins here, well, that would be fantastic and we certainly go out to get a win but the thing is I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on the team and the building of it and teaching them how to handle the pressure so that by the time we walk into the World Cup we are more prone to being in a winning position,” she says.

Karla Pretorius’ return has been one of the most anticipated in a while. The Sunshine Coast Lightning star took time out to start a family with the birth of her daughter Kara and hadn’t played international netball since October 2021 when she travelled to Northern Ireland for three test matches against Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.

Although Plummer is happy with Pretorius’ progress, she says she is yet to return to her top shape.

“I don’t think she is back to where she originally was but that is expected after the baby but she is certainly coming fast. Every day on the court you can see she is starting to tweak her game and get better and better. We will work with her and make sure because she’s got the baby here, she is looked after, and she is given the time that is needed so she can relax and rest as well because we don’t want to run her into the ground but we certainly do want her

on the court for the main games. But you know she hasn’t played in a match like that for a long time so we have got enough in our abilities as a group in the back end to swap it around and give her a break and bring her back on. We will just play it by ear. We’ve just got to read it as it happens because we haven’t got any matches up until then so I can’t give you a total outline on it,” she says.

The 2019 Netball World Cup Player of the Tournament will also return to her club, Lighting, after the Quad Series. She was announced as part of the 2023 squad last year. She has been an invaluable member of the since joining them in 2016 when the club was formed. Pretorius also captained the side in the 2021 season. She was also part of the 2017 and 2018 title winning teams and was named Most Valuable Player in the 2017 Grand Final.

Plummer says the team will have proper preparations for the World Cup to ensure that the team is at its peak when the global tournament comes. The professional leagues in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand will play a big role in getting some of Proteas into top shape and keeping them match fit for the World Cup.

“We are coming back in every second month and the girls are overseas playing in top competitions and the ones that are not we’ll be back here to support them and keep them at the level,” she stresses.