Experience feature of World Cup squad

Silver Ferns World Cup players (from left) Jane Watson, Shannon Saunders, Phoenix Kararka, Te...
Silver Ferns World Cup players (from left) Jane Watson, Shannon Saunders, Phoenix Kararka, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Casey Kopua, Katrina Rore and Gina Crampton during the squad announcement in Invercargill yesterday. PHOTO: DIANNE MANSON/MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
It was a tough side to select, but one to be happy with.

That was Silver Ferns assistant coach Debbie Fuller's summation after yesterday's World Cup squad announcement in Invercargill.

Experience is a feature of the 12-player team, led by 151-test veteran Laura Langman.

Her return, alongside that of fellow centurion Casey Kopua, gives this side a different look to the one which capitulated at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast a year ago.

That will be key if the pressure goes on in July, when the side gets its campaign under way in Liverpool.

Fuller said it was not just the experience, but the fact it was spread across the court that was pleasing.

"It's a balanced team," she said.

"We've got cumulative experienced players throughout the court who know what their job is and know what to expect."

Despite being happy, she said selections were "really hard".

Four reserves would be named at the end of next week and she said it was important they were ready to go.

There had been much debate as to who would make the squad and reasons varied for the notable absentees.

Young goal shoot Aliyah Dunn had failed to meet a team requirement, although Fuller spoke highly of her and said she would be valuable in the future.

She was notably edged by Bailey Mes, who was recalled after being dropped following the Gold Coast failure.

Maria Folau, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ameliaranna Ekenasio filled the other shooting spots.

Kelly Jury and Kayla Cullen both had injury question marks hovering over them and were left out.

Fuller said they had selected players who had consistently had enough court time and form.

That was crucial at the World Cup, as playing five games in as many days, followed by tough playoff matches, was gruelling on the body.

As a result, Jane Watson, Katrina Rore and Phoenix Karaka all earned recalls, joining Kopua in the defensive circle.

The midcourt had been equally tough to choose - Shannon Saunders getting the nod over Sam Sinclair and Whitney Souness.

Her reliability and ability to cover wing attack had been a vital factor in that regard.

She joins Gina Crampton, Karin Burger and Langman.

Six players return from the side which lost on the Gold Coast.

While Fuller said it was important to learn from that experience, redemption was not a focus.

"That word doesn't feature in my vocabulary. I think we've just got to go after it.

"We've got to be of the mindset as a group that we're going over to uphold the mana of the Silver Ferns.

"We want to do everything we possibly can to make our country proud and make sure the game style we produce people are proud of."

It has been only 13 months since the ill-fated Games and less since Noeline Taurua took over as head coach.

Whether that was enough time to turn things around remained to be seen.

For Fuller it was a case of doing things they best they could.

"I think you can prepare and our preparation from here on in has to be world-class.

"We're going into a world championship, so everything we do has to be up another level."

World Cup squad

Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maria Folau, Phoenix Karaka, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman (c), Bailey Mes, Katrina Rore, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Shannon Saunders

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