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Lightning’s Defensive Combination Ready To Strike

Opposition shooters beware, Sunshine Coast Lightning’s circle defenders are primed for a strong season in 2020.

South African duo Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni have benefited from one full Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season together and Head Coach Kylee Byrne anticipates their combination will only strengthen this year.

While Pretorius established herself as one of the world’s best defenders last season, Byrne said it’s the improvement and potential of Maweni that fans should keep an eye out for in 2020.

“That one year under Phummy’s belt to know what this Suncorp Super Netball environment is and to know physically what she has to do – it has helped so much,” Byrne said.

“She’s stepped back in like she hasn’t been away and we’ve been really happy with where she’s at for this time of the year.

“She’s come back better than I thought she would, so I’m really happy to see her out on the court next week.

“I am expecting to see her out front and getting more ball, we’ll see her take some pretty big intercepts – her skills have improved dramatically, so she’ll have a big year, I think.”

Maweni ranked third in the SSN for defensive rebounds and fourth for deflections in 2019, in a strong maiden season in the premier league.

During Lightning’s offseason she competed in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup and the Spar Challenge, but already Maweni is keen to get back out on court.

“I have big goals this season, I can’t wait to kick off the pre-season and to get the feeling of the game again and get back out on court,” Maweni said.

“It’s good to be back with the girls, it’s amazing just being here on the Sunshine Coast – I’ve been missing the weather, it was cold in the UK!

“I’m ready to get out on court and play netball again.”

The defender said competing in the Vitality Nations Cup alongside Pretorius in January provided a good foundation to build on heading into the 2020 SSN season.

“Karla and I always click together because we understand our combination and strengths, so far we are doing well,” she said.

“We picked up where we left off last year and are in a good position to enjoy ourselves again.”

Pretorius said being back in the Lightning training environment will greatly benefit her pairing with Maweni and stressed the importance of a consistent training schedule to keep the combination sharp.

“I think what that tournament really reiterated was the importance of training together and that it doesn’t just happen overnight,” Pretorius said.

“We hadn’t trained together since September, so it was all new for us again. But as the games went on, it got better and better.

“It just shows the more you train together, the better it’s going to be – knowing we were coming back into an environment like Lightning, it helps you grow.”

As if the 29-year-old’s recent form wasn’t already daunting enough for opposition players, Pretorius said she is capitalising on the opportunity to learn and improve in the pre-season and finesse her skills.

“Training is really interesting and you want to learn,” she said.

“Obviously pre-season is there to grow and work on those finer details and it’s a good opportunity, so it’s been enjoyable.”

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