The Depth Of Lightning’s Defensive Duo

After years of sharing the defensive circle, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni’s combination is almost instinctive.

The South African duo have been playing side by side as part of Spar Proteas for the past 7 years, and that connection has flourished since Maweni joined Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2019.

While the pair are often limited to shortened pre-seasons – an allowance given to them to return to South Africa to spend valuable months with family in the offseason – their combination continues to strengthen.

That was clear in Sunday’s clash against NSW Swifts where both defenders were on song.

Lightning Head Coach Kylee Byrne is confident there’s more where that came from and anticipates the pairing will only get better throughout the season.

“The combination is always going to continue to grow with Phumza and Karla,” Byrne said.

“They go home and spend time with their family and loved ones in the offseason – they have limited interactions in South Africa.

“They always are going to find each other during the season – that build is still coming.”

Whether speaking Afrikaans to confuse their opponents or making a statement with their tandem ‘lift’, Maweni and Karla’s relationship is built on trust that has developed over time.

“That absolute trust they have in each other is the foundation of what they have,” she said.

“They talk about having each other’s backs and knowing by instinct what the other one is going to do and that will only get better and better every week.”

After being awarded Player of the Match in Lightning’s Round 4 fixture against Swifts, Pretorius was quick to focus the attention back on her defensive partner.

The reaction a mix of modesty, as much as it was ensuring Maweni’s strong performance was recognised.

“I could just go on about Phumza this whole interview – she was magnificent,” Pretorius said.

“I always want to give it (Player of the Match accolades) over to someone but I feel she deserved it today.”

In 2021 the addition of Kate Shimmin has added another string to Lightning’s defensive bow.

While the Pretorius – Maweni combination has been the chosen option to open games, the flexibility Shimmin also provides has only benefited the team.

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