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Durban, South Africa – The three-Test SPAR Challenge International netball series between the SPAR Proteas and Wales will be an ideal preparation for the Proteas ahead of series against the top four teams in world netball.

“We want a win out of this series,” said Norma Plummer, who has coached the Proteas since the Diamond Challenge in Uvongo last year.

Plummer, who coached Australia to victory in the netball world cup in 2007 and 2011, said she was the delighted with the quality and versatility of the South African team.

“There is some terrific talent who didn’t make the squad, so there is great depth in South African netball,” said Plummer.

“I only had three weeks with the players before the World Cup last year, but I have had more time, and I am very pleased with their progress.  They have stepped up a gear since the World Cup, and I believe they will go from strength to strength.

“This series against Wales is very important.  Later this year, we will be playing against the top three netball countries, Australia, New Zealand and England, with a series against Jamaica after that.  If the Proteas are to challenge the top teams, they have to play against them, and they also need to play against teams that are more or less at the same level as they are, so they can sharpen their skills” she said.

“The more international exposure they have, the better.  When we play those top teams, we want, if not a win, to close the scorelines.”

Wales coach Trish Wilcox said her team was very excited to have the opportunity to play in South Africa for the first time.

“We have cracked the top ten in world netball – in fact we are in the top eight – and we are looking at closing the gap and moving up the world rankings,” she said.

“All our players play in the English Super League, with the core of our national team playing for the Dragons, and this is an ideal way to end the season,” she said.

South Africa last played Wales at the World Cup in Sydney last August, beating them by 60 goals to 38.  The teams have met 11 times, with South Africa winning every match.  South Africa are ranked fifth in the world and Wales are ranked eighth.

“Wales are a formidable team,” said Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen.

“We understand they have improved since then, but so have we.  We are excited about the opportunity to implement what we have been working on over the past year.”

The three Tests, to be played at the Durban International Convention Centre, will be preceded by matches between the Baby Proteas and the Wales Under-21 sides.  The coaches of both teams said they were very happy to have the opportunity to play internationals ahead of the Under-21 World Cup in Botswana next year.

“We are also learning a lot from being with and playing against the senior team,” said Baby Proteas coach Jenny van Dyk.

The SPAR Challenge will be played for 17-19 June. Tickets available from Computicket.