Silver Ferns reveal 2019 Netball World Cup squad

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 23 May 2019, 5:43PM
New Zealand stand for the national anthem. (Photo / Photosport)
New Zealand stand for the national anthem. (Photo / Photosport)

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua has named a 12-strong team, featuring the return of defenders Katrina Rore and Phoenix Karaka, midcourter Shannon Saunders and shooter Bailey Mes, to contest the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July.

Netball New Zealand national selectors and Taurua confirmed the Silver Ferns team, to be captained by midcourter Laura Langman, on a day that marks just 50 days to go until the first whistle is blown at the 15th staging of the World Cup.

Former captain Rore, the fourth most capped Silver Fern in history, was dropped after the fiasco at the Commonwealth Games, but earned a recall after a strong season, leading the Central Pulse to ANZ Premiership Grand Final.

The 1.86m defender has the ability to cover all three defensive roles and has formed a strong combination with Karin Burger, who has been named to play at her first Netball World Cup.

Karaka (19 test caps) was part of the 2015 Netball World Cup team that won silver. Karaka last played for the Silver Ferns in January 2018 and has had a strong defensive season as captain of the Northern Mystics, regaining her dynamic form post a concussion which saw her miss four games as a precaution.

Mystics teammate Mes (63 test caps) was a surprise selection. Outshone by rising star Grace Nweke at the Mystics, Mes shot at only 73 per cent this season. While some of that is due to her taking longer attempts, Mes did not perform well in her most recent stints in the Ferns dress, but gets the nod due to her versatility and fitness.

Fitness was the reason why 17-year-old Nweke - who would have been a bolter regardless - wasn't selected, while one of the most prolific shooters in the competition, Aliyah Dunn, also missed out after previously having had fitness concerns. Stars shooter Maia Wilson was also overlooked.

Kayla Cullen missed out after failing to return to her best after a horror run of knee injuries, while Temalisi Fakahokotau couldn't return from a torn ACL in time to make the cut. Fellow defender Kelly Jury also missed out after an inconsistent season with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, as did Jury's Magic teammate, midcourter Sam Sinclair.

"We have five athletes who have been on the outer, faced their so called demons and yet have been open to take on feedback, better their skillset and continued to push themselves," Taurua said.

"I look for players who can do the job in the first instance, connections and playing combinations, and then personal qualities. The players who have been recalled to wear the Silver Fern again demonstrates to me passion for our game, fight, fortitude, tenacity and work ethic. The Silver Ferns needs to be a team that can emulate those same qualities."

Taurua said she wanted to acknowledge the work done by players in the ANZ Premiership who played a role in finding the World Cup team.

"It has certainly been a tough selection process. There are so many great players who have not been selected. I do feel for them.

"We couldn't have got to this point without the work that has gone on behind the scenes.

"We feel we have a good mix of athletes who provide versatility, experience, leadership, drive and hunger to compete against the best in the game.

"They are all fit and that's a good start. We can finally commence our work and build the team leading into World Cup. It's been a long time coming."

The side includes five Netball World Cup debutants in Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson.

Former captain Casey Kopua will be competing at her fourth and final Netball World Cup while Maria Folau and Langman are also lining up for a fourth shot at the sport's pinnacle event.

The Silver Ferns play five pool games back-to-back before a rest day which will be followed by one more pool match before teams then head into the semifinals and final.

Silver Ferns Team:

Karin Burger (Pulse), Gina Crampton (Steel), Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Pulse), Maria Folau (Thunderbirds), Phoenix Karaka (Mystics), Casey Kopua (Magic), Laura Langman (captain, Lightning), Bailey Mes (Mystics), Katrina Rore (Pulse), Shannon Saunders (Steel), Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Steel), Jane Watson (Tactix).