By Fayth Doherty and Zac Attwood
With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, it will be vital for the Silver Ferns to get as many players and combinations on the court over the three game Cadbury Series against the Aotearoa Men’s team.
With a team full of talent but also an very inexperienced team, testing out different partnerships and combinations should be a focus for this series, as well as getting all the players out on court.
After the Netball World Cup in 2019 – some of the biggest Kiwi names in netball retired, Casey Kopua, Maria Folau and Laura Langman.
All three of these players were mainstays for the NZ side and we now need to see players step up into their spot.
Although you will never be able to replace these huge names, their positions need to be filled in the team and this series is the perfect opportunity for players to put their hands up and grab their opportunity.
There are a handful of new players that we may get to see on court this series, players like Kate Heffernan and Jamie Hume may get on court and their first appearance in the black dress this series.
It will be important for them to get out on court if they are wanting to push for selection for the Commonwealth Games.
As well as developing new partnerships, it will also be key for the Ferns to build and strengthen their existing partnerships and combinations that we have seen in the ANZ Premiership.
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New Zealand residents can watch on Sky Sports from 7.10pm (NZST)
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We have seen a strong attacking end at the Northern Starts consisting of Maia Wilson, Jamie Hume and Gina Crampton – making a debut with familiar players around you would definitely help your game and enable you to play to your best in a high pressure situation.
This series will also provide an opportunity for Gina Crampton to step up in her role as captain with Jane Watson, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Ameliaranne Ekenasio out of this series.
Having an inspiring leader and leaders across the court has proven to be important for the Ferns as a team and will continue to build a legacy as a team full of leaders.
This means that players across the court will need to show leadership throughout the series. With Sulu Fitzpatrick and Jane Watson missing, a defender will really need to step up and take on some leadership in the defensive third.
Although the defensive end is lacking in leadership, the attacking end and midcourt will boosted up with the inclusion of Gina Crampton after her injury in the previous Cadbury Series.
When she was not on in the series against England, you could see the void that she left, hopefully her return will return some calm to the Silver Ferns attacking end.
Playing against the men will also assist in getting the players conditioned for the high intensity of international netball.
Another key aspect vital to the Ferns chances in this series is patience.
We saw glimpses of this in the English series when the Ferns were struggling, but often one high risk ball would ruin the pressure they had been building.
The men will be a faster and more physical side so patience is key to ensure the Ferns can keep their turnover rate low and take more risk free options.
Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua is known for having very high fitness standards for her team which will allow them to take their time, throw the ball around and tire out the opposition rather than making long, quick risky balls which will be easy for the men to intercept.
Whilst these three games are going to be super beneficial for the Silver Ferns, it will also be super important for the growth of the men’s game.
Brisbane 2032 is around the corner and the work needs to be done to see the game at the Olympics.
This game allows for men’s netball to be seen on a global stage, helping it to grow and expand whilst building the awareness that men play netball as well. This growth is super beneficial and will hopefully keep building to the point that we see netball included in the Olympics in years to come.
For the Men, similarly to the Silver Ferns, they are also missing some big names like Junior Levi and their captain Kruze Tangira.
This series for them will be about getting back on the court and getting men’s netball recognised world wide.
They will also be hunting for their title back after the Ferns won the crown for the first time in 2020.