New caps Danelle Lochner and Ina-Marie Venter were named in the SPAR Proteas national netball team on Thursday.
The two shooters were part of the team chosen at a week-long training camp at the Pretoria University High Performance Centre.
Lochner has just returned from the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana, where the Baby Proteas finished in sixth place.
NSA President Mimi Mthethwa-Zulu said the team have been selected for the Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand in August, and a two-Test series in Fiji. She said the Quad Series, which continues in South Africa and England next year, was part of the Proteas’ build-up for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia next August.
Coach Norma Plummer, who coached Australia to two gold medals, said she was delighted with the 12 players who have been selected.
‘Danelle came straight from the World Youth Championships and she almost selected herself. She’s physically powerful and has great maturity for a girl of 19,’ said Plummer. ‘It’s always good to get a player of that calibre at such an early age.’
Centre court player Bongi Msomi retains the captaincy of the team, with goal defence Karla Mostert as her vice-captain. Msomi has been playing with the Wasps in the Super League in the United Kingdom and was named player of the match in the final, which the Wasps won. Mostert played in the Australian league, and was named most valued player.
Another player who has been playing overseas, is shooter Lenize Potgieter, who played in the New Zealand league.
Plummer said the experience gained by these senior players would add to the strength of the Proteas. ‘They can pass on their knowledge to the others in the team,’ said Plummer.
Assistant coach Nicole Cusack, who is responsible for the circle players, said the presence of very tall players like Lochner, Venter and Potgieter would enhance the strength of the shooting circle. ‘We are hoping to be very strong and dominant in the circle,’ said Cusack.
Msomi said she was very excited about the team that had been selected. ‘Everyone wants to be challenged and we are growing with every camp,’ she said.
There are a number of very experienced players in the team, including the former Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen and veteran centre Erin Burger.
Holtzhausen returned from a serious injury during the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and made an immediate impact on her team, the Free State Crinums.
Other senior players include Rochelle Loubser, Phumza Maweni, Precious Mthembu and Zanele Vimbela, while centre court player Nadia Uys Pienaar makes her return to the team for the first time since 2012.
A new national coach to work with Plummer and Cusack will be announced soon.
Proteas national team: Bongiwe Msomi (captain), Karla Mostert (vice-captain), Erin Burger, Maryka Holtzhausen, Danelle Lochner, Rochelle Loubser, Phumza Maweni, Precious Mthembu, Nadia Uys Pienaar, Lenize Potgieter, Ina-Marie Venter, Zanele Vimbela
Picture of the squad courtesy of Reg Caldecott