South Africa will maximise their home ground advantage when they take on England and Trinidad and Tobago in a tri-nations netball series in front of a capacity crowd at the NMMU Indoor Sports Centre in Port Elizabeth from Tuesday.
Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen said her side were determined to prove themselves in the four-day contest after losing 3-0 to England in a test series on British soil last month.
"The tri-nations is definitely an opportunity, I wouldn’t say for payback, but for improvement,” Holtzhausen said.
"We knew what we had to work on after we came back from England and the tri-nations gives us the perfect platform to measure our improvements.” Although England, currently third in the world rankings, were the favourites on paper, Holtzhausen said being the underdogs, being ranked sixth, could work in their favour.
"England is a very physical team, with accurate shooters and pace throughout the court, which we are prepared for.
"We’ve worked hard on our attack and changed a few things, but our big strength is definitely our defence.” South Africa’s most-capped player Zanele Mdodana would make a welcome return to the national squad after struggling with injuries.
"Zanele had a great training camp last week — she is 100 per cent and really hungry to play excellent netball like we know she can,” Holtzhausen said.
"We are very privileged to have her back for the tri-nations.” Trinidad and Tobago, who occupy ninth spot in the world rankings, would be the dark horse of the series.
"We never underestimate any team. We will be going into the Trinidad and Tobago match with the same mindset as any other test.” The series starts on Tuesday with South Africa versus Trinidad and Tobago, while the hosts take on England on Wednesday. On Thursday, the visiting teams play each other, with the two log leaders going on to compete in Friday’s final.
All matches start at 5.30pm and the games will be televised on DStv.
Although tickets are virtually sold out, organisers said seats were still available for the Diamond Challenge series against Zambia and Zimbabwe, which follows from October 27-30 at the same venue. - Sapa