Netball:It was a ‘night of firsts’ for the Super Netball competition – and that included its first draw.
SOUTH African centre Erin Burger has no problem being thrown in the deep end as the vital new recruit for the Queensland Firebirds.
The 94-Test veteran has answered the powerhouse’s SOS for a seasoned playmaker after Mahalia Cassidy was ruled out for the season due to a knee reconstruction.
Burger will not play in this Saturday’s Suncorp Super Netball Round 2 blockbuster against Collingwood at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
The 30-year-old will meet her new teammates in Perth ahead of the Firebirds’ clash with the West Coast Fever on March 3 and is happy to jump straight in.
“At the deep end, you know who can swim. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a good way to start,’’ Burger told The Courier-Mail from South Africa last night.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy. The season has started but I’m ready for that. It won’t be a shock.
“I don’t feel extra pressure. It’s a new team for me but I still want to do well.
“I’m super excited. It’s a great opportunity, especially to be playing for the Firebirds against the top players in the world.’’
The introduction of the South African gives the Firebirds five internationals in their starting seven – captain Gabi Simpson, Caitlyn Nevins, Gretel Tippett, Jamaican Romelda Aiken and Burger.
Burger has been playing for the South African national team since she was 19 and her feeding skills and defensive pressure are her strengths.
She was voted the MVP of the 2011 world championships and has also represented her country at the Commonwealth Games.
Burger played for South Africa at the recent Quad Series and held her own against Diamonds centre and former Firebird Kim Ravaillion.
The performance caught the eye of Firebirds mentor and Diamonds assistant coach Roselee Jencke.
While rookie Kristen Oxenford battled hard in her debut against the Sunshine Coast last weekend, the draw with the Lightning highlighted Queensland’s need for an experienced centre to give the Firebirds variety in attack.