South African rookies impress against Fiji

South African rookies impress against Fiji

By |2018-04-11T16:34:09+10:00April 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorised|0 Comments

South Africa
GK Phumza Maweni
GD Karla Pretorius
WD Zanele Vimbela
C Izette Griesel
WA Bongiwe Msomi (c)
GA Renske Stoltz
GS Sigrid Burger

Fiji
GK Merelita Waqanidrola
GD Episake Kahatoka
WD Lusiani Rokoura (c)
C Alanieta Waqainabete
WA Nina Cirikisuva
GA Maliana Rusivakula
GS Laisani Waqa

South Africa recorded a huge 64 goal win over Fiji, using the opportunity to run their bench players.

Only world number one, Australia, has reached a higher score during the Games, with tallies of 94 and 108. South Africa’s total of 92 pleased coach Norma Plummer, but she minimised the importance of the milestone.

“I don’t go out to get big scores, but we have to play the game … The two young ones are shooting machines, so you’ve got to let them also do that. But I would never go out to deliberately score 100. I know plenty of teams do, but you don’t need to,” said Plummer.

Renske Stoltz took the court for the first time in the tournament and proved to be a valuable alternative in combination with fellow replacement shooter Sigrid Burger. South Africa’s recent international netball success has been based around building a strong starting seven. Few bench alternatives were exposed during the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England. Losing established shooter Lenize Potgeiter and wing defence Precious Mthembu has devastated the team, but this match presented an opportunity to increase the depth of their squad.

Stoltz and Burger piled on 67 goals in three quarters, replicating their domestic combination in the South African Brutal Fruit competition and university competition.

“Renske and I go back quite a long way. In South Africa the commentators used to call us ‘the super combination’, because it’s like David and Goliath, the giant and the shorty! … With Renske at my side I was just like, it’s fine, just knowing calmed us both down, it’s just muscle memory going back to reading each other,” said Burger.

South Africa made no turnovers in the first quarter, an impressive feat considering the small number of caps between the attack line of Burger, Stoltz and midcourter Izette Griesel. Ine-Marie Venter replaced Burger for the last quarter and although her combination with Stoltz was not quite as comfortable, they had their highest scoring quarter.

Izette Griesel enjoyed some court time. Photo: Simon Leonard

Fiji’s injury woes continued two minutes into the game, losing defender Episake Kahatoka to an innocuous-looking knee injury that prevented her from returning to the court.
Sixteen-year-old Fijian shooter, Laisani Waqa, continued to impress with body strength and safe hands on the high balls. Despite the deficit, defender Merelita Waqanidrola tried hard all game, picking up 3 intercepts and 6 deflections.

South African stars Erin Burger, Maryka Holtzhausen and Phumza Maweni enjoyed some time off after a huge tournament workload.

Laisani Waqa taking another hanger. Photo: Simon Leonard

South Africa 92 def Fiji 28

South Africa
Renske Stoltz 16/21 76%
Sigrid Burger 56/59 95%
Ine-Marie Venter 20/22 91%
South Africa 92/102 90%

Fiji
Maliana Rusivakula 8/12 67%
Laisani Waqa 19/26 73%
Unouna Rusivakula 1/2 50%
Fiji 28/40 70%

 

Renske Stoltz, South Africa
“It was good. I really enjoyed it, just to get out on court again with the girls. I haven’t played with them for about 12 months. So I just enjoyed every moment.”

Her combination with Sigrid Burger
“We play together for the Flames and for our university team, so we played two years with each other. We just spoke about it. I think it’s one of those connections that just works. We just know each other. It always works, I just think sometimes there’s just things that work well together and I think that’s the case with us.”

Her instructions from Norma Plummer
“Today it was just to keep it short and sharp and just to find the connections again, because me and Zigi haven’t trained with the team in the preparation for the Commonwealth Games. So it was just to find each other and to keep it short and get the basics right.”

How she was called into the team
“There was 18 players selected in January who went for trials. And then out of the 18 they selected the 12, and that was the 12 that went to the Quad Series and the Commonwealth Games. So since then we haven’t seen each other, we were not training with them because me and Sigi are playing in England as well, so we can’t just go in for training camp when we’re not going to be in the team.”

Norma Plummer, South Africa Coach
“Look, I think Vicki (Wilson, Fiji coach) is in the wars with a few injuries and we’ve certainly had our share. So it was nice, I thought it was a pretty good, friendly game.”

Renske Stoltz’ performance
“Renske didn’t have a good year last year and she was in England after we had the injury to (Danelle) Lochner. So we contacted her and she came on down, and I’m really pleased we did, because today I thought she really came back into the fold. I’ve got a lot of time for her, she’s a great little thinker and mover. Everybody has an off season occasionally, but we’re really pleased with her performance today.”

On her team’s large score
“I don’t go out to get big scores, but we have to play the game. We train hard to be able to get flow and do all of those things so we need to finish off. And the two young ones are shooting machines, so you’ve got to let them also do that. But I would never go out to deliberately score 100, I know plenty of teams do, but you don’t need to.

We just worked on what we needed to work on. Because we know Barbados isn’t going to be a push-over tomorrow, they’ll be pretty tough, and we need to maintain third on this pool grouping and then who knows who we’re going to play (in the classification rounds)! It’s anybody’s guess at the moment! So we got all the players out there today, so they got a touch. And tomorrow we’ll be looking to do that as well, because we need our whole bench to be able to work for us.”

Despite the disappointment of injuries, is it good to be able to develop the depth of the squad at this level?
“Yeah I think we’re at the cut-off point though! We don’t want to pull in too much more. We had about three really good players that had to withdraw because they got good teaching jobs and they can’t get the time off. So it’s a total different scenario from Australian players getting paid full-time and don’t have to work. These kids do, they all have to work full-time or study at the university so it’s a lot harder for them.

So there was three other players that we would have liked to have seen stick around, but when you get a teaching job they’ve been striving for, they have to do that and you have to understand that. So the luxury is not there, but we’re working at it.”

Nicole Cusack, Assistant Coach South Africa
“It was a good run for us, we had a hard draw at the start of the week. It’s good to have a good hit out, and a bit of a flow through the game. We have been trying to work on our flow and connections through the court.”

The connections on court
“I want to see those connections with the shooters and centre court as well, that feed into the circle with our tall shooters, and just standing up strong in there. Working around, and giving each other lots of options, not just the tall goal shooter. Ine-Mari and Renske were in the same Brutal Fruit team this year, before Renske went away, so they have had a bit of time together. They’ve got a bit of a connection – not as good as Sigi (Burger) and Renske, but they have a similar style of game.”

What have you taught your shooters
“It’s not backing out of things. It’s going hard for the ball and coming forward, like a lot of the South African goal attacks hang back a bit, in the pockets, and take the long drive along the baseline. So, trying to get them more involved, and sharper angles leading up into the middle of the court, not just hanging wide all the time. Running hard at the ball and not fading away. Maryka has worked a lot on her variety, she kinda used to be a bit predictable in some of the moves, but I think they know when to use which moves and when not to.”

On Erin Burger
“Erin reads the game quite well, and she can see where the defenders are, so when the feed comes in she is able to change the delivery off the hand at the last minute, to place it away from the defender, so the shooters change their angles. We’ve worked on that, because we’ve got the new shooters. She’s not used to throwing as much into those. Erin does pick up things pretty quickly, she’s a smart player.”

Sigrid Burger, South Africa
“I’m glad we could pull a nice win, and it’s time that we start upping the scores, I’m definitely very chuffed about that. When I go on court, all I think about is see, receive and sink the ball. When I’m on, make sure I get that ball, make sure I’m an easy open target, make sure that we convert.”

What she does if she drops focus on court
“Often if I lose focus, then …. because I’m very competitive, I’m just like, Sigi, actually you need to pull yourself together right now, and like, cut all negative thoughts that you could be having in your head out. Think, you are on court because the coaches believe in you, and pull yourself together, you can do it. I think, just do the basics, don’t try to be flashy. Get the ball, play it safe, get into the zone, and get it in.”

How she felt when Renske Stoltz was named at goal attack to play with her today
“I was very pleased. What people don’t know is that Renske and I go back quite a long way. In South Africa the commentators used to call us ‘the super combination’, because it’s like David and Goliath, the giant and the shorty! We played together from first year university, and we played Superleague back home, so we know each other off the palm of our hands. Going in, it was going to be extremely tough, but with Renske at my side I was just like, it’s fine, just knowing calmed us both down, with both knew it’s fine, it’s just muscle memory going back to reading each other.”

What Nicole Cusack (Assistant coach and former Australian Diamond) has done for the South African shooters
“Nicole’s absolutely iconic. I think Norma and her are by far the best of the best coaches in the world, and I’m so privileged to have worked with them. Nicole especially, she’s worked on our shooting action, and just like, the way we think about the game, and the way when balls come down, how to position. She’s definitely helped us improve a lot, if we had a tiny bit of talent, make use of it. She’s upped our skills, thinking, teaching us some shooting drills.”

What she’s most proud of in the development of her team
“Something I’m proud of is obviously we’ve had now three losses, Lenize had an ankle, Danelle the other goal attack had an ankle, and then Precious, … it’s absolutely devastating. What I love about our team, is we were like given the circumstances, Renske and I were flown in, and then the whole team came together. We can’t change what’s been given to us, we just have to make the best out of what we have at the moment. We just had to pull ourselves together and fight. And the fact that Renske and I weren’t in any of the Quad series camps, the fact they welcomed us in so nicely and made us feel instantly part of the team, that’s something I’m so proud of.”

How she manages the distractions and the length of the tournament
“When we split our day up into free time, focus time. When we have free time like an hour, we make the most of it, go to some karaoke in the games room, or mingle with cool people in the village. The minute we’re back in our rooms, because it’s just like netball environment, we all just like watch some of the games, we get back into the mindset of what we’re here for. We just all have that mindset of work, work, work hard, and then play hard. I think it helps us a lot to not get carried away with too much. Because we’re all actually a good bunch of friends, we’ll hang out when it’s not netball time either, so that helps a lot.”

Laisini Waqa, Fiji
“I only ever played netball. Women in Fiji play basketball, cricket, baseball as well. My older sister she only plays basketball. I like being together in the team, working together. I have my aunt in Sydney, Marianni and Touwanga, they might come in on Friday.”

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Elite netballer trapped in the body of a very average one.

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