Two newcomers have been selected to join the national netball team for the Diamond Challenge to be played in Margate next week. The newcomers are Elsje Susanna Du Plessis , a shooter from the North West Flames, and centre/goal defence Nokubonga Sibiya of the Kingdom Stars. The two players caught the eye of the selectors during the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), which ended in Pretoria on Sunday.
Sibiya was named the most promising player at the NPL. Goal attack Lindie Lombard of the Gauteng Jaguars, makes a welcome return to the national team after a long layoff because of injury. She was carefully managed during the NPL, and was not allowed to play more than three quarters in a game.
Netball South Africa Director of Selectors Christine Du Preez says: ‘She has been cleared now to play a full game, and we will watch her during the Diamond Challenge to see if she is match ready after her injury.’ Others to return to the team, after missing the tour to Northern Ireland for the European championships last month because of work commitments are NPL player of the series Karla Mostert, the Crinums goal attack and NPL midcourt player of the series, Bongiwe Msomi, who plays centre or wing attack for the Kingdom Stars. Another Stars centre court player, Precious Mthembu, also returns to the squad. Du Preez said the team for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August would be announced after the Diamond Challenge: ‘The team for the Diamond Challenge is not necessarily the team that will go to Sydney. For instance, we will want to see how Erin Burger is and whether she will be ready for the World Cup.’
Burger suffered an ankle injury during the NPL, and was not available for selection to the Diamond Challenge. South Africa will play the three other countries that will represent Africa at the World Cup during the Challenge. They are long-time rivals Malawi, and World Cup newcomers Uganda and Zambia.
The tournament starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday night. SA national team: Maryka Holtzhausen (C), Lindie Lombard, Elsunet Du Plessis, Phumza Maweni, Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adéle Niemand, Lenize Potgieter, Izette Lubbe, Shadine Van Der Merwe, Karla Mostert, Zukelwa Cwaba, Nokubonga Sibiya.
Coach: Bennie Saayman
Assistant Coach: Martha Mosoahle/ Elsje Jordaan
Team Manager: Nisha Rupnarain
Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images