2022 Quad Series team review: South Africa
SOUTH Africa came into the 2022 Quad Series as the underdog, and, after a shaky start, managed to find some rhythm in the later matches to almost steal third spot. The Proteas have never finished in the top three, but came within a goal of doing just that despite missing their best player.
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
South Africa clearly improved as the tournament went on. After a couple of big defeats at the hands of eventual finalists England and Australia – though they were competitive for a half in those games – the Proteas really took it up to the Silver Ferns. They had some breakout performers who stood tall against some quality opposition with their bookends and captain being the stars. Add in some quality contributions from others, and it was far from doom and gloom for the Proteas.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Realistically without gun defender Karla Pretorius, it was always going to be tough. Throw in a couple of talents in Lenize Potgieter and Shadine Van der Merwe who have Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) experience, and the side suddenly looks that much stronger. They had less depth than the other sides, and will need to tighten up the midcourt at times, with high numbers of turnovers really hurting them.
It is hard to look past shooting sensation Ine-Mari Venter who scored more goals than any other player in the competition. In her four games, the 26-year-old shot 134 from 147 attempts (91 per cent efficiency). Her partner-in-crime, Lefébre Rademan played an underrated role in the goal circle despite being somewhat inaccurate, scoring 35 goals from 52 attempts. Bongi Msomi led from the front in the midcourt with a series-high 72 goal assists, whilst Izette Griesel – despite having some high turnovers in patches – performed strongly for the most part. Defensively, Phumza Maweni picked up more intercepts than any other player, and the veteran did well throughout the tournament locking into goal keeper.
From a young guns perspective, it was hard to look past Nicola Smith. The 21-year-old defender has some world-class quality to try and nudge out between Pretorius and Zanele Vimbela, but when called upon to do her job, she did it. Unlike the other South African defenders, she is not only on the younger side of 30, but she is still a genuine developing talent who might have Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) in her future. Another who caught the eye was Tshina Mdau who had her moments through the wing defence bib.
South Africa can be proud of how it performed from game one to game four. The Proteas came agonisingly close to stealing third spot, saving their best until last, even without Vimbela. They have some quality players in each third, and for the Proteas it is about bringing through the next generation and preparing for the future.