Super Netball: Meet 'silent assassin' Karla Pretorius, Sunshine Coast Lightning's grand final weapon
- August 25, 2018
Originally published on ABC 25 August 2018
Sunshine Coast Lightning goal defence, Karla Pretorius, will play a vital role in her team's attempt to create history and win back-to-back Super Netball titles in Perth this weekend.
But you will not see the 28-year-old South African representative player talking up her team's chances against the West Coast Fever.
She is quietly spoken, humble, and does not seek attention off-court.
However, when Pretorius puts her bib on and the whistle blows she transforms into a player who has the ability to dominate her much bigger opponents.
There is a fierceness to her play, combined with steely grit and determination that she attributes to the South African culture and her hard-working parents.
Pretorius prefers to let her on-court actions speak louder than words.
In last week's preliminary final against the Sydney Giants she was judged Most Valuable Player with seven intercepts, three rebounds and 13 gains.
In last year's grand final win, in the Lightning's debut season, Pretorius was also Player of the Match.
On Friday, she was named in the Super Netball team of the year.
"That's how I've always been. I'm an observer and listener. I'm more for doing stuff than saying stuff," Pretorius said.
"I'm all for actions rather than words.
"I prefer to be the silent one. I don't want to be out there in front. I'm just doing my business. It's kind of who I am as well."
Pretorius said it is not like it is a mind switch or anything like that when she goes on the court but the excitement and wanting to do the job well.
"People say I seem like this quiet person and somebody who is not the typical netball player build and all of that and then just appearing.
"Like it almost counts in my favour a bit, like almost under estimating me," Pretorius said.
'You're too skinny' for international netball
In the past she has been told she was not strong enough to play internationally or does not have the right build, which has motivated her to become faster, stronger and more agile to prove her doubters wrong.
It is these attributes which now allow her to swoop and steal the ball from opponents every week.
"If people say 'You can't do this', and 'You won't be able to do that', then it's almost like I want to show you that I will be able to do it," Pretorius said.
"It was almost like a challenge [from the] people saying 'You're too skinny for playing internationally'.
"Well, we'll see about that and then I'll do the work and want to prove them wrong."
Lightning coach Noeline Taurua has coached South Africans in the past.
"The thing I like about Karla is she has got that South African way," she said.
"They're very tenacious, tough mentally but also physically.
"When you look at her body you think you could blow her over but you know she comes up with ball and she has been consistent in this competition — not only this year but also last year," Taurua said.
"She's a big game breaker for us and she's a ball winner."
That is quite an accolade in a team of stars that includes Diamonds' players, Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood, and England Commonwealth Games gold medal winner, Geva Mentor.
"You'd actually hate playing against her. She's just that player that appears from nowhere," Lightning assistant coach Kylee Byrne said.
"I know on the sideline we actually sit there and go, 'Oh she's amazing', but I think without doubt she will be the best player in the world soon," she said.
Byrne said the South African has gone to a whole new level of high performance in her second season of Super Netball and deserves to be named best in the competition.
"There's that aura and level of performance we're all expecting from her but as long as she brings it this weekend we'll be even happier with that," Byrne said.
If Pretorius can dominate Fever goal attack, Nat Medhurst, in Sunday's game with some trademark intercepts, the Lightning will be well on the way to becoming the most successful new sporting team in Australia.
If the Fever win, it will be the first time in more than 20 years of trying that a team from the west has won the big prize.
It sets up a mouth-watering contest at a sold out Perth Arena.