South African Shadine Van der Merwe (left) has signed with Adelaide Thunderbirds. Picture: Renee McKayGetty Images
South African Shadine Van der Merwe (left) has signed with Adelaide Thunderbirds. Picture: Renee McKayGetty Images

T-Birds lure Proteas star to Adelaide

SOUTH African international Shadine van der Merwe has been lured to Adelaide Thunderbirds as the replacement for injured Beth Cobden.

The specialist wing defence trained with the Thunderbirds on Monday and will be in the line-up for the clash against Giants Netball in Sydney on Sunday.

Cobden ruptured her ACL in the round three loss to Melbourne Vixens, forcing the England star to have a third knee reconstruction.

Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst said she had been searching for a like-for-like wing defence to bring into the team for the rest of the Super Netball season and that had been achieved with the signing of van der Merwe.

Named in the Proteas side for the World Cup in England in July, van der Merwe is coming off a highly productive season in the UK Superleague when she was named best and fairest for Surrey Storm.

She admitted to be overwhelmed when she received the call from Obst and said everything had happened so quickly.

"I had planned to go back to South Africa to prepare for the World Cup and was surprised to get the call from Tania," van der Merwe said.

"I can't believe I'm taking part in Super Netball and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I want to do the work so the goal defence and goal keeper look good."

Beth Cobden could miss the season after hurting her knee. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Beth Cobden could miss the season after hurting her knee. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Van der Merwe spoke with Proteas coach and former successful Diamonds coach Norma Plummer before signing the deal with the Thunderbirds.

 

"I did not expect this and I'm thankful the Thunderbirds believe in me," she said.

Obst is confident van der Merwe will have an immediate impact for the Thunderbirds given she has international experience.

"She is one of the world's best up-and-coming wing defence specialists," Obst said.

Training partner Maisie Nankivell has been used as Cobden's replacement in the past two games and incredibly has played in seven of the eight quarters. The youngster was on court for the entire contest in the win over Queensland Firebirds on Sunday.

South Africa's representation in SN has grown to five after classy shooter Lenize Potgieter was revealed as a signing for injury-hit Firebirds.

"Having five players in SN getting that experience before the World Cup, Norma will be very pleased," van der Merwe said.