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SILVER FERNS PREVIEW – New World International Netball Series – Silver Ferns vs Australia, Wednesday 17 September, Westpac Stadium, Christchurch
Versatility could play a key role for the Silver Ferns heading into Wednesday’s first New World International Netball test against world champions Australia, in Christchurch.
The Silver Ferns face a busy schedule over the next few weeks with two home tests against Australia (September 17, Westpac Stadium and Vector Arena, Auckland, September 20) and a three-test-home series against England during October before heading across the Tasman for two further tests against Australia.
Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken said the side was looking forward to the first of seven tests in the 2008 International calendar.
“This is the beginning of our new four-year programme and with the new mix of players we are looking forward to a strong start to the season” she said.
With both teams embarking on a new era towards the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Championships, Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken has a number of options at her disposal for the first re-match since Australia assumed the No 1 ranking.
“We have a versatile team who can cover a range of positions and offer a balance between specialist and utility players” she said.
New cap, Southern Steel’s Katrina Grant, joins a strong Silver Ferns defensive mix while her southern team-mate, the recalled Daneka Wipiiti adds a potent option for the shooting circle. A strong ANZ Championship propelled Wipiiti, the tallest in the team, back into the Silver Ferns frame and her presence gives Aitken plenty of variety in the shooting circle.
Shooting mainstay Irene van Dyk proved she was not confined to just the goal shoot role with a series of stellar performances at goal attack during the ANZ Championship. The combined height of van Dyk and Wipiiti, both expert rebounders and Wipiiti’s preference for long shots or the more mercurial talents of Maria Tutaia and the steady Paula Griffin offer a wealth of shooting options.
Since making her debut for the Silver Ferns in 2002, Wipiiti’s all-round game has continued to mature, paving the way for a deserved return to national honours.
The midcourt mix also offers viable alternatives with the quartet of Maree Bowden, Joline Henry, Laura Langman and Julie Seymour all comfortably able to play more than one position.
Outstanding individual player of the ANZ Championship, Casey Williams spearheads a mobile and well-performed defensive unit which will look to confront and disrupt the experienced Australian shooting circle. Seymour picks up the captaincy reigns for the second time, first assuming the role in 2002 before taking time out to have children.
Natalie von Bertouch will captain Australia for the two tests in New Zealand in the absence of injured Sharelle McMahon, who has been ruled out for the entire international season following knee surgery. Australia also lost shooter Natalie Medhurst for the New Zealand leg of the international season following surgery to remove her appendix this week.
Paula Griffin , Maria Tutaia, Irene van Dyk, Daneka Wipiiti, Maree Bowden, Joline Henry, Laura Langman (vice-captain), Julie Seymour (captain),
Leana de Bruin, Katrina Grant, Sheryl Scanlan, Casey Williams (vice-captain).
Wednesday 17 September, Westpac Stadium, Christchurch