Four Sunshine Coast Lightning athletes will begin their Netball World Cup campaigns this weekend, as the 2023 tournament kicks off in Cape Town, South Africa.

Lightning Captain Steph Wood and teammate Cara Koenen will line up for Australia, while Kadie-Ann Dehaney will represent Jamaica and Karla Pretorius for South Africa.

Here’s what Cara Koenen had to say about her selection and predictions ahead of the tournament:

“I’m extremely excited. I mean, any opportunity to put on the Diamonds dress is an absolute honour and a privilege. My phone call with Stacey about selections this time around was no different to any other — I was very, very nervous and shaky as my phone rang, but obviously completely overwhelmed with emotion as she delivered the news,” she said.

“We’ve got a really exciting group. We’re super connected and very much on the same page heading into what we hope will be a successful World Cup campaign.

“It’s going to be hard to win this World Cup. New Zealand are the reigning world champions and with Noeline [Taurua] at the helm, they’re going to be very well-prepared. She hasn’t been shy about saying that the last year and a half has been her build towards this World Cup, so I think she’s been working incredibly hard in the background.”

Representing the host nation, Karla Pretorius will Vice Captain her side as they prepare for a tough Pool match against Jamaica on Day 3.

“It’s a good group that they’ve put together — a good combination of young players and more experienced players,” she said.

“With the comp being held on African soil it makes it really special. There will be a lot of friends and family that will be at the games, which will be really special to showcase what we can do. The South Africans are usually a very loud bunch and that’s what we like so I definitely think it will help us playing in front of a home crowd.

“The thing about the South African crowd is that they won’t just sit and watch. They will sing, they will dance, and it will be loud. It’s a very cultural experience and it will be very different than other World Cups so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The 10-day competition is made up of four Pools, strategically placing the top teams in separate groups. Australia has been placed in Pool A, while both South Africa and Jamaica sit in Pool C.

The opening fixture of the tournament will take place on Friday, 28 July. All Australian Diamonds matches are available via Kayo Freebies. Click here to see Lightning’s World Cup viewing guide.

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