Estavana Polman is looking forward to the start of the Handball World Cup in Spain, after successfully passing the last tests last week.

The experienced international, who has returned to Orange after a year and a half of injuries, knows that it will be a very different tournament than she is used to.

"I am hungry, but also on my guard", 29-year-old Polman tells a day before the first World Cup match of the Orange against Puerto Rico.

"It's nice to play a tournament at 100 percent, because then you don't have to think about anything. But here in Spain I will not be 100 percent. It will be a different World Cup than two years ago."

The goal of the team is the same.

"We want gold again, but then everything has to be right," says Polman, who was named the best player of the tournament after the World Cup final won in Japan in 2019.

"Now I will have to look at it from day to day. I see it as a huge challenge, the question is always how my knee is doing. But I want to make as many minutes as possible."

Polman did not suffer from her knee during the practice matches of the Orange in Norway.

It was rather a mental game, after she tore her cruciate ligament in the summer of 2020 and was seriously injured again in March 2021.

"I have to become freer in my head and that will take a while. It's a matter of playing as much as possible and then getting into situations that you can't plan. I have to go through that."

Estavana Polman during the 2019 World Cup final against Spain.

Estavana Polman during the 2019 World Cup final against Spain.

Photo: ANP

'I thought: maybe it's too soon'

It has gone fast in recent weeks with Polman, who only participated in the training sessions at her club Esbjerg.

Five days ago she only made her return to Orange, which fell against Norway with hard numbers (36-21).

It was not a pleasant return.

"I came back to my room and thought: shit, is this it? Maybe it's all too early. Tomorrow against Russia should be better."

Against the Russians it went better with Orange and with Polman.

The four-time world champion was defeated 32-29, partly due to two hits from the Arnhem.

"I then spoke with teammates and the staff about what I had to do. After that, after consultation with the doctors, I decided that I would go to the World Cup."

It is great for Polman, who missed the European Championship of 2020 and the Games in Tokyo due to her injury, that she can play a tournament again.

"I have fun with those girls and that's where the success usually starts. Hopefully I can grow in the tournament."

The Netherlands against Puerto Rico starts on Friday at 8 p.m. in Torrevieja.

The Orange squad then plays against Uzbekistan (Sunday) and Sweden (Tuesday) in the first group stage.

See also: This is the World Cup program and the route to the final for the handball players