Having swept the board last year with a unique treble, coach Jenny van Dyk is confident of starting the top-flight 2018 campaign on a positive note, as she chases another title with the Gauteng Jaguars in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League.
Van Dyk guided the Jaguars to league glory in June last year, and two months later she won the Spar National Championships with the Gauteng provincial side, before taking the Varsity Netball crown with the University of Pretoria (Tuks).
After being edged by the Free State Crinums in three straight Premier League finals between 2014 and 2016, the Jaguars beat the North West Flames 49-43 in last year’s trophy decider to earn their maiden crown.
With their victory, they secured an entry in the Super Club tournament in New Zealand which featured eight teams from six countries.
Struggling to put up a fight at the international event, they settled for three defeats and a draw before beating Fijian side Marama Vou 68-49 in the wooden spoon playoffs.
“We weren’t used to playing game after game at such a high intensity. It was a valuable learning experience,” Van Dyk said this week.
After refining their skills on court, and receiving a boost with the acquisition of Proteas star Erin Burger, Van Dyk believed they had the ability to handle the pressure and retain the Premier League crown.
“I believe in focussing on one specific aspect of the game until the players have mastered it,” she said ahead of their opening match against the Northern Cape Diamonds on Saturday.
“The challenge is always to lift the intensity of our play. It was also important to get the right combinations sorted.”
The 10-team Premier League competition will be contested over six weeks, starting at Ellis Park on Friday evening.
After the opening fortnight, the remaining fixtures will be held at Rembrandt Hall in Pretoria.