Johannesburg, South Africa – There are a number of very experienced players in the SPAR Proteas team for the Netball World Cup (NWC) in Liverpool, United Kingdom in July, but no-one can compare with centre Erin Burger.
Boasting 115 international caps, Burger (32) will be taking part in her fourth NWC. She made her World Cup debut in Auckland New Zealand in 2007. In 2011, in Singapore, she was named Player of the Tournament. She was also part of the team that went to the NWC in Sydney in 2015. She has also represented South Africa at three Commonwealth Games.
But Burger, South Africa’s most experienced player, was nearly lost to the game in 2018 when she developed a life-threatening condition called myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart.
“I found I was battling to breathe,” said Burger.
“I was sent for various tests and X-rays, and given a pump to help me to breathe. I played at the Commonwealth Games, but I was still battling to breathe and I also found I got very tired.
“Eventually one of the trainers at the Sports Science Laboratory where I work out persuaded me to see Dr Wouter Basson, a cardiologist in Cape Town. He did more tests and scans, and he found that I had had myocarditis. It was no longer active, but I had scar tissue from a previous episode.”
Burger said the diagnosis had been a great shock, but thanks to the treatment prescribed by Basson and a carefully-designed training programme, she was able to return to the Proteas team for the Quad Series earlier this year.
In 2017, she had a stint with the Queensland Firebirds in the Australian Super Netball League.
Captain Bongiwe Msomi and former captain Maryka Holtzhausen will both be playing in their third World Cup.
Msomi (31), who plays centre and wing attack, has gained valuable international experience by playing professional netball in the English Super League, for Surrey Storm and Wasps, as well as the Australian Super Netball League, where she played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Holtzhausen (32), who plays goal attack, was the first South African to be invited to play in the English Super League, joining Loughborough Lightning for the 2015 season. She later went back to play for the Severn Stars in 2018 and 2019.
Dynamic goal defence Karla Pretorius (29) has created waves in Australian Super Netball. In 2018, she shared the Player of the Year award with Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate Stephanie Wood and was included in the Super Netball Team of the Year. She will be playing in her second NWC.
Twenty-five year-old goalshooter Lenize Potgieter, will also be playing in her second NWC. She had a stint with Team Bath in the English Super League, before being snapped up by Waikato Magic in the New Zealand Premiership. She had two seasons with them before moving to Southern Steel in 2019. She is currently the only South African playing in New Zealand.
The NWC in Liverpool will be 34-year-old goalkeeper Phumza Maweni’s second world cup. Maweni spent time in England, playing for Loughborough Lightning and Severn Stars before joining Pretorius at Sunshine Coast Lightning this year, where they formed a dynamic defence partnership.
The other player going to her second NWC is 27-year-old centre Izette Griesel, who was selected for her strength and physicality on court.
The veterans are expected to form the core of the team in Liverpool, with support from NWC debutants Ine-Mari Venter, Renske Stoltz, Khanyisa Chawane, Shadine van der Merwe and Zanele Vimbela.