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WORCESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Maryka Holtzhausen during the Vitality Netball Superleague match between Severn Stars and Saracens Mavericks at the University of Worcester Arena on March 04, 2019 in Worcester, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images for England Netball)

All ten Vitality Netball Superleague sides are being represented at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool this summer. When South Africa meet Fiji Pearls at the M&S Bank Arena on Saturday 13 July, five players who were involved in the 2019 VNSL season will be hoping to star.

The Lowdown

The SPAR Proteas did not require any qualifiers for this competition thanks to their status as a top five netball nation, as per the INF World Rankings, and they will automatically qualify once again when they host in four years.

They made an impact when they last participated in a World Cup on British soil, finishing second after 25 years of isolation following apartheid, and this generation will be hoping to make a similarly seismic statement.

Fiji, meanwhile, have qualified for the last five editions of World Cup but this will be their first in England. Their greatest finish was sixth in 1999 and they managed to finish seventh at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. They are not unfamiliar to tangible success, however, winning at the South Pacific Games every year since 1995.

VNSL Players Involved

  • Bongiwe Msomi (South Africa & Wasps Netball)

Bongiwe Msomi enjoyed a fruitful Vitality Netball Superleague season as she helped Wasps reach a third consecutive Grand Final. The 31-year-old has represented the SPAR Proteas at two previous World Cups (2011 and 2015) as a dynamic wing attack and will captain her country this summer.

  • Shadine Van Der Merwe (South Africa & Surrey Storm)

Shadine Van Der Merwe will make her World Cup debut in Liverpool. The 25-year-old played for Surrey Storm in the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season but joined Adelaide Thunderbirds as a permanent replacement player for an injured Beth Cobden soon after.

Van Der Merwe has worked hard to earn a place in Norma Plummer’s squad and her immense contribution to Storm’s Fast5 qualification, as well as winning Surrey Storm’s Best and Fairest Award in her first season with the club, certainly helped her cause.

  • Maryka Holtzhausen (South Africa & Severn Stars)

Maryka Holtzhausen became the first South African to play in the Superleague when she joined Loughborough Lightning in 2015. The leftie shooter has since moved to Severn Stars and has now amassed more than a century of caps for her country, appearing at two World Cups thus far.

Her infectious attitude would be more recognisable in someone vying for their first cap and this temperament makes her a popular figure in any dressing room.

  • Sigi Burger (South Africa & Surrey Storm)

A late addition to the South African squad due to a training injury to Ine-Marí Venter, Sigi Burger will be looking to capitalise on this chance. The goal shooter had a tremendous season for Surrey Storm with an impressive shooting percentage of 94% and the league’s highest average number of goals per match. Burger has 13 caps for her country and this will be her first World Cup.

  • Dee Bolakoro (Fiji Pearls & Celtic Dragons)

Despite Fiji’s consistent presence at the World Cup, this will be Dee Bolakoro’s first taste of the competition.

The 34-year-old goal defence, who can also play at wing defence, helped Celtic Dragons reach their highest Vitality Netball Superleague finish in recent years. Bolakoro is currently in the British Army and played for their British Forces team.


The Southern Hemisphere is home to some of the biggest powers in world netball and these forces often collide. In the last two years, South Africa and Fiji Pearls have met three times but there has only been one winner.

The SPAR Proteas triumphed in two international friendlies in 2017 and at the Commonwealth Games last year. The gap between the pair has, in fact, grown since the 72-31 win with the most recent meeting ending 92-28.

South Africa also came out on top in their one previous World Cup encounter with Fiji.

In the Vitality Netball Superleague, Fiji were equally as unfortunate against their South African counterparts. Celtic Dragons, for whom Bolakoro featured, collected two wins from six against Wasps Netball, Surrey Storm and Severn Stars.

Dragons unfortunately came across the VNSL South Africans on top form. Bongiwe Msomi proved integral in Wasps’ double over Dragons, while Holtzhausen controlled the game in their first meeting with Stars.

Bolakoro did, however, triumph over Shadine Van Der Merwe’s Surrey Storm. Dragons beat Storm in both of their encounters 48-46 and 58-51 respectively.

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

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