Durban, South Africa – The coach of the SPAR netball Proteas, Norma Plummer, is a happy woman after a very successful training camp in Durban last week.
Plummer, who coached Australia to World Cup gold in 2007 and 2011, is preparing the team for the three-Test SPAR International Challenge against Wales this weekend at Durban’s ICC (17-19 June). She is using the series as part of preparations for a much sterner test for the South African team – the tri-nations series against world netball powerhouses Australia and New Zealand later this year.
“We had a very successful training camp, and achieved what we set out to do,” said Plummer.
“There was a very high standard of play – much higher than when I took over the national team in June last year. ”
A training squad of 25 was named after the completion of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in Durban last Sunday, and a 14-member squad for the Wales series was announced on Thursday afternoon.
Plummer said the training camp had been very influential in the selection of the final squad.
” In the training camp they were not part of a team, but had to compete for positions. It is in situations like where we see netball intelligence in the player,” she said.
“A player might be dominant in a provincial team but find she isn’t dominant in the Protea squad, so how they handle pressure and adapt is of paramount importance.
“We mix them up, play them out of their prime position and out of their comfort zone and put them under pressure to see how they handle it. Most players have handled it well.
“The players are all so enthusiastic and willing to work that it has been a pleasure working with them,” said Plummer.
The final squad included some surprises, with three young players – Sigrid (Siggie) Burger, Renske Stoltz and Jeanie Steyn — being selected for the first time.
Plummer said she had been very impressed with the depth of talent at the training camp.
“What we were looking for was athleticism and netball intelligence. I like players who can think for themselves on court. We also wanted a versatile team that could give us options and help us to cover all the bases.”
The coach said she was excited by the three new caps.
“Siggie (Burger) is a future world beater for the Proteas,” she said.
“She is young and enthusiastic and willing to learn. She had the highest number of shots at goal and goals scored at the NPL, and that made her a definite for selection.
“Renske (Stoltz) was the player of the tournament at the NPL. She is very elusive and smooth around the court. She has great timing and reads the game very well – going back to netball intelligence. She also had the highest percentage of goals by goal attacks during the NPL,” said Plummer.
Regarding Jeanie Steyn, Plummer said she was a goalkeeper with whom she could work.
“I love her reading of the game and her tenacity. She will contribute greatly to the team’s success. She is also very competitive and very coachable. With Phumza (Maweni) it gives us two strong options at goal keeper.”
The International Challenge will be played at the Durban ICC on June 17, 18 and 19. The Tests will be preceded by matches between the Baby Proteas and Wales Under-21.
Tickets available from Computicket.