International Tests

Roses look to start strong against Silver Ferns

England Roses return to New Zealand to contest the Taini Jamison Trophy one year on from the 2020 instalment of the series – seemingly with an upper hand.

Players from the England Roses have had a full domestic season under their belt and multiple training camps back in England, a vast improvement on last year – plus Magpies star Geva Mentor joins the team in New Zealand.

The host nation Silver Ferns have had a more turbulent lead-up, with four Auckland based players delayed in joining the squad, waiting on exemptions to leave level 4 lockdown in Auckland.

Newly-appointed captain Gina Crampton and vice-captain Sulu Fitzpatrick, along with exciting Mystics front line of Grace Nweke and Peta Toeava, will have less than ideal preparations before test one on Monday, 7.30pm NZT (5.30pm AEST, 8.30am UK).

GIANTS star Jo Harten and Swifts champions Helen Housby and Natalie Haythornthwaite will not be joining the Roses until the Australian leg of the tour, which means opportunities will be available for Loughborough Lightning champion Hannah Joseph, Leeds star Rhea Dixon and Team Bath’s Sophie Drakford-Lewis. 

The same can be said for the Ferns, with Tactix defender Jane Watson and returning goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio not available.

The absence of these two will create chances for Mystics champion Grace Nweke,  Stars player Jamie Hume, Pulse’s Tiana Metuerau and Steel’s Kate Heffernan to debut. 

The Taini Jamison Trophy is fought between the Silver Ferns and any country other than Australia playing in Aotearoa.

Silver Ferns has only lost it twice – against a Word 7 in 2009 and again in 2018 to Jamaica.

Key matchups:

NZ-based Rose George Fisher versus Silver Fern Sulu Fitzpatrick

With one year in the ANZ Premiership under her belt, goaler George Fisher now has first-hand knowledge of the Kiwi style of play.

It will be up to Sulu Fitzpatrick to keep Fisher on her toes by using her trademark movement and physicality. 

Experienced Rose Geva Mentor versus new star shooter Grace Nweke 

After a stellar year for the Northern Mystics teenage superstar Grace Nweke will want to solidify a starting seven position in the Silver Ferns.

How she plays against Veteran defender Geva Mentor will indicate where she stands in world netball. 

Mentor, who has had a good break since her up and down Suncorp Super Netball season, will prove a new challenge for Nweke.

Who wins?

This series feels too close to call from the outset.

With different conditions and new personnel in the mix for 2021, the England Roses will want a stronger performance than last year. 

Meanwhile, a new age for the Silver Ferns is upon us.

Who will put their hand up to be included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games? 

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