Exclusive: Jenny van Wyk hopes Jaguars can be ‘pushed off throne’ in Telkom Netball League

THE Telkom Netball League tips off today at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. Photo: Netball SA

THE Telkom Netball League tips off today at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. Photo: Netball SA

Published Apr 26, 2024


When Jenny van Wyk sits down to watch the Telkom Netball League (TNL) in the coming weeks, she will have to do so without revealing her predisposition towards defending champions the Gauteng Jaguars.

That will be difficult, because the Tshwane-based outfit are the undisputed queens of the TNL, and former coach Van Dyk is one of the reasons they have become so formidable in the past seven years.

That is in the past for the highly rated Van Wyk, who was promoted to head coach of the Proteas earlier this year after the departure of Norma Plummer.

She will now experience the TNL with a more critical eye as she searches across the teams for the next big star, the next X-factor, the next leader of the national team.

One of the skills the former Proteas squad player will be searching for is mental fortitude, and in this regard, Van Wyk believes the ever-improving TNL is the perfect proving ground.

“What a lot of people tend to forget is that the first three years that the Jaguars played in the competition they lost in the finals against the (Free State) Crinums,” Van Wyk recalled in an exclusive interview with Independent Newspapers.

“Back then, it was a young squad that lost in extra time twice, (but) it is in finals that you can build BMT (big-match temperament). The Jaguars have become so clinical in managing those big moments.

“The expectation is that we have made the final, we are going to feel great, we are going to win and we will be done. In reality, it is never an easy game, and sometimes you need to understand that. Just because we don’t feel in control doesn’t mean you can just let go of the game.

“It’s in those moments where the grind happens, and we build that mental toughness and resilience. We need everybody (in the TNL) to be competitive, so that we can make more of those decisions at the end.”

It is for this reason that Van Wyk hopes that the TNL will be a stern test for all concerned when it starts today at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg.

The Jaguars have won the tournament on six occasions in the past seven years – the only blight on their record being the 2022 triumph of the other Gauteng outfit, the Golden Fireballs.

Toppling the side now coached by Rozanne Matthyse will remain a major achievement, as they will be the early favourites to capture another title.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everybody working hard in an effort to push the Jaguars off their throne,” Van Wyk admitted. “It is important that we don’t have just one team that dominates the league.

“They have done well, and everyone can learn from what they have done so far, but I want to see other teams playing in the finals. It will be difficult, because I know what the Jaguars can do.”

Van Wyk’s wish to see a more competitive league will be bolstered by the fact several Proteas players, including arguably the country’s finest export, Karla Pretorius, will be eligible for selection.

Pretorius, who will play for the Crinums, will be joined by national teammates Refiloe Nketsa (Crinums), Ané Retief (Crinums), Tarle Mathe (Fireballs), Boitumelo Mahloko (Fireballs), Jamie van Wyk (Jaguars) and Kamogelo Maseko (Jaguars).

Their participation will bring a little bit more prestige to the tournament, and help increase the professionalism, which remains an important developmental cornerstone for Van Wyk and Co.

Said Van Wyk: “If we can have our franchise teams be like Sundowns or the Bulls, and only come in and play netball every day, we will be in a position where we will get the professionalism of the league to where we need it to be.”

Related Topics: