Durban,South Africa – The upcoming SPAR Challenge international netball test series South Africa vs Wales is an ideal opportunity for the Proteas to gauge how far they have come since the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year. The two top 10 world ranked netball nations, South Africa (ranked 5) and Wales (ranked 8) will do battle at the Durban ICC from 17-19 June 2016.

This is the view of SPAR Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen, who said the three-Test series would also enable the team to put into practice what they had learnt during an intensive training camp under the coaching team of Norma Plummer, Nicole Cusack and Dorette Badenhorst.

Plummer coached the Proteas at the World Cup last year, but had only six weeks in which to work with the national team.  She coached Australia to the gold medal in the World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

Holtzhausen said judging by the recently completed Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and the training camp in Durban last week, the standard of netball in South Africa had improved.

“We have also been able to see how much depth there is in top-level netball, with a number of top players unable to force their way into the national squad,” said Holtzhausen.

Vice-captain Bongiwe Msomi said the training camp in Durban had been amazing.

“Coach Norma works with everyone, not just the top seven, and it was a real learning process for everyone.  I think the coaching team is exactly what we need right now.  We are working on unity within the team.”

Msomi said South Africa had beaten Wales at the World Cup in Sydney last year, but the Proteas would not be complacent.

“Most of Welsh play in the English Super League – many of them as members of the Celtic Dragons.  The standard of play in the Super League is very high, so they will be match-ready.  But we are also match ready, so it should be a good contest,” said Msomi.

The 14-member squad selected for the series includes three new caps – shooters Siggie Burger and Renske Stoltz, and goalkeeper Jeanie Steyn.

Holtzhausen welcomed their selection, saying they were all very exciting players.

“It is always good to have new faces in the squad, and these three have slotted in well,” she said.

“They certainly bring excitement to the team.”

South Africa and Wales have played each other 11 times, with South Africa victorious in all their encounters.

Tickets for the SPAR Challenge are available at Computicket.

Test programme:

Friday June 17 18h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21

20h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales

Saturday June 18 16h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21

18h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales

Sunday June 19 12h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21

14h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales