Khanyisa Chawane

DERBY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Khanyisa Chawane of Cardiff Dragons poses during the Netball Super League Media Day Portrait Session at the Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport on February 02, 2024 in Derby, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images for England Netball)

KC Sunshine Can Calm The Storm . . . And Keep Cardiff Dragons In Play-Off Hunt

sportswales

By Graham Thomas

Cardiff Dragons’ Khanyisa Chawane is desperate to help her team enjoy a successful Super League campaign as she continues to erase the memory of her first all-too-brief season in the tournament.

The South African international mid-court player has featured in every match so far for the Dragons, who host Surrey Storm on Friday night at the House of Sport.

That’s in sharp contrast to Chawane’s first taste of Super League with Team Bath, which lasted just two matches in 2020 before the Covid pandemic forced her to return to South Africa.

“I was really keen to come and join Cardiff Dragons this season because I felt I owed it to myself to experience Super League to the full,” says Chawane, known universally as KC.

“When I had the opportunity four years ago, it turned out to be very frustrating.

“I came and did pre-season with Bath, played two games, and then the pandemic struck and I had to go home. So, I didn’t get the whole experience of the Super League at all, really.

“I had always wanted to expand my levels and play in the UK, so when the chance came to come back a second time with Cardiff, I jumped at it.”

KC – who was born and raised in Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa – developed her netball skills at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

She played for Free State Crinums in the Telkom Netball League and then made her international debut for South Africa in 2018.

Since moving to Cardiff, KC has been one of the form players for the Dragons so far this season, starting all nine matches for the franchise who currently stand just outside the play-off places in fifth spot.

Her sharp passing skills means she has 242 feeds so far this season – the seventh-highest total in the league.

The 28-year-old, who has appeared in two World Cups for the Proteas, believes the standard of Super League has risen a few notches since her last experience four years ago.

“The intensity of Super League is really high and doesn’t feel any different to international level netball,” she adds.

“You have to be right on it and fully prepared for every game. With the Dragons, we really have to fight to get the win and I’m loving being part of a squad that has responded to the demand and is really working hard.”

At the midway point of the season, Dragons have so far won four, lost four, and drawn one of their nine matches and sit in fifth place, just outside the play-off places.

Visitors Storm are just one place and one point behind their hosts in sixth place.

“I think there is a definitely a different mentality at Cardiff now,” KC adds.

“You can have all the ability, but you need the confidence and the mentality to want to do it.

“That’s where the change has come, I think, from what I can see. A big part of that is our coach, Jill McIntosh, who is so clear and gives really simple, straightforward messages.

“This game against Storm is a really big one because they are so close to us in the table.”

Apart from missing the blue skies above South Africa, KC reckons she is loving life in Cardiff.

When she is not training or on court, she enjoys catching up with teammates for coffee or watching her other favourite TV sports, football and tennis.
She says she would step outside of her apartment more often, but insists: “You can’t trust this weather!

“One minute the sun is out, and you feel you can go outside, and then the next it’s raining!

“But I am loving life in Cardiff. I’ve enjoyed catching up with people for breakfast, seeing different places around the city and doing a bit of shopping. There is a lot to do here and people are very friendly and welcoming.”

Being in Wales has also given her the opportunity to get to know some Welsh Feathers stars – such as Nia Jones, Georgia Rowe and Phillipa Yarranton – she had previously only known as international opponents.

“I had played against a few of them for South Africa, so it’s been nice getting to know them better.”

KC was in the Proteas team that beat Wales 61-50 in the group stages, before the Proteas went on to finish sixth.

“It was great to play in front of our own friends and family at the World Cup and to be able to show people from around the world how beautiful South Africa is.

“I loved every minute of it.”

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