Potgieter left shocked by “horrible” Thunderbirds axing

SOUTH African goal shooting star Lenize Potgieter has sensationally declared the Suncorp Super Netball as “not normal netball anymore” and described her dumping from Adelaide Thunderbirds as a “rubbish feeling”.

In an exclusive interview with Rookie Me Central, Potgieter said she was “quite shocked” to not earn another contract with the Thunderbirds after what she considered to be a strong season.

“To be honest that was a rubbish feeling,” Potgieter said of her departure.

“Personally, I thought I was putting everything out on the court. My stats were showing, I was active, I got away from the defenders, I got ball easily on the circle. 

“I was quite shocked when they didn’t renew my contract, but I get that it’s a new game, it’s not normal netball anymore in Australia, it’s basically fast five with seven players on court, and I’m not a long range shooter.

“When you come back to reality and you play traditional netball like the rest of the world is doing, I don’t have to take long range shots from far.”

Potgieter said she could understand the Thunderbirds going a different way given the style of netball, but was frustrated that she was not given an explanation for not winning another contract.

“The way they went about it was what annoyed me the most. It was very blind sighting… I got the feeling and it’s horrible having those assumptions from these feelings inside of you,” Potgieter said.

“We all usually say we’re grown up enough that you can tell us ‘Listen, you’re not going to be with the team next year, but be professional to still put out the best performance you can because you still want to win obviously.’

“(I was) disappointed that they couldn’t give any reasons, they just said they needed change. But everything happens for a reason. I’m at this amazing club at the moment, and to be honest I’ve not been this happy since my first season at Magic, so it’s been quite a few years now but I am loving it here so much.”

After the Thunderbirds did not re-sign her, Potgieter was unsure about her future with so many teams boasting full rosters. In the wake of Manchester Thunder losing two of their shooters to overseas clubs, they contacted Potgieter and so the move was on. It was just coincidence close friend and compatriot Shadine Van der Merwe was at the club, who had also been the pull to get Potgieter to the Thunderbirds.

Since moving to the Thunder, Potgieter has scored 625 goals in 15 matches, at an accuracy of 96.8 per cent. She has also pulled in 15 offensive rebounds to be a key player in the side’s run to the finals series. Though the Netball Superleague season is getting to the pointy end and winding down, the South African will have another chance to represent her country in a couple of months.

In a rare opportunity, Potgieter is gearing up for a home World Cup later and said that having a World Cup in South Africa is bigger than the sport.

“I think as South Africans it’s such an opportunity to showcase our beautiful country,” she said. “But it’s not just that, it’s also a pride thing for the African continent because we actually have such great teams on the continent, they just don’t have the resources like other countries to become professional, to train the whole time, to have all the equipment.

“It’s just for us as a whole continent it’s a privilege to be able to host the Netball World Cup, and I keep on reminding people I don’t think they have a clue what they’re up against vibe wise, just the spirit that they’re going to walk into. It’s going to go off, it’s going to be mental.

“The crowds in Australia are massive, they’re big, they’re loud. We might not have a massive venue but you’re sure as hell going to hear the South Africans and the Africans roar in there, and it’s a warning that I’m issuing out now, you will get a fright.”

Potgieter also spoke about her journey getting into netball and playing in the three majors leagues. Stay tuned for that story coming soon.

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