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Aussie netball star says SA game shows great improvement
- Updated: October 2, 2014
Australia’s longest serving netball captain, Michelle Den Dekker, says netball in South Africa has made great strides in the past 15 years.
Den Dekker, who was captain of the Australian team that beat Debbie Hamman’s South African team in the final of the 1995 netball world championships, was speaking ahead of the coming SPAR International series between a South Africa invitation team and the Australian Team of Excellence in Potchefstroom from 12-18 October.
‘The South Africans have become very competitive,’ said Den Dekker. ‘They are playing a harder style of one-on-one defence, which is making it more difficult for us.’
Den Dekker, the head coach of the Netball Centre of Excellence in Canberra, said the Challenge series was very important for Australia’s future stars. ‘They need to experience international travel and also playing against different teams with different styles,’ she said.
‘Most of them have never played at altitude before, so that could be a challenge. But that is all part of the experience they need. We expect at least five senior players to retire after the World Championships in Sydney next year, so we are looking to players from this group to step up to the next level.
‘The depth of netball in Australia is very strong, so I am confident that these players will do well.’
She said two players in particular would be pushing for a place in the Australian team for the World Championships next year. ‘Ashleigh Brazill, who plays centre and wing defence, has a very good chance of making the team, and I am also very excited about Kate Shimmin, who plays goalkeeper and goal defence. Kate has a vertical jump of 70 centimetres, and is an expert at the lift, which makes it difficult to score against her,’ said Den Dekker.
The coach said that she would be travelling with a squad of 14 players instead of the normal 12, because of the need to identify players who were ready to make the step up to the senior Australian team.
Australian Team of Excellence: Ashleigh Brazill, Courtney Bruce, Beryl Friday, Hulita Haukinima, Saral Klau, Cody Lange, Maddy Proud, Kate Shimmin, Verity Simmons, Kaylia Stanton, Amy Steel, Numi Tupia, Georgie Virgo, Chloe Watson. Coach: Michelle den Dekker.