Just how high does Taurua set her fitness standards?

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua. Photo: ODT files

Fitness issues

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua announced her squad for the Nations Cup recently, but there were notable omissions in World Cup shooters Maia Wilson, Tiana Metuarau and fan favourite Peta Toeava.

They failed to reach the fitness standards Taurua has been strict on since taking the top job in 2018 — and it is not the first time players have missed the cut.

Five players were sent home in 2021 for not meeting the 16.3 minimum standard on the yoyo test, Aliyah Dunn, one of the most accurate shooters in the ANZ Premiership, continues to miss out due to fitness, and captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who in fairness gave birth to her second child just months earlier, missed the Commonwealth Games after not making the fitness standards.

Kelly Jury was one of the five who was sent home from Australia three years ago, but maybe it was the wake-up call she needed, considering Jury bounced back to be the country’s best goal keep and win the Dame Lois Muir award in 2022.

For others it has not had the same effect. Toeava, for example, missed the last Constellation Cup series again through fitness woes.

We do not often hear about All Blacks or Black Caps being dropped for failing fitness standards — then again, when do we hear of Black Ferns, Football Ferns or other top female athletes missing the mark?

Does that speak to just how gruelling the fitness base needed for netball is? Or is it more the high standards under Taurua?

Not making excuses, but there has been a heavy workload the past six months for this group and fatigue can come in as a factor. As can menstrual cycles, which cause fatigue for everyday women let alone athletes, putting added pressure on the body that male athletes do not face.

But despite the challenges, we must demand the best from our elite female athletes if we want to be the best.

Looking forward to seeing how they get on next week.

That time of the month

Speaking of menstrual cycles, the subject is becoming less taboo as periods continue to impact female athletes and their injuries.

Golfer Lydia Ko spoke two years ago about how her back and hips were tight during the LPGA due to her period, and United States skier Mikaela Shiffrin stated she was exhausted, and felt out of sorts, before a big race due to period symptoms as well.

Matildas captain Sam Kerr. Photo: Getty Images
Matildas captain Sam Kerr. Photo: Getty Images
Fatigued athletes are more likely to suffer serious injuries, and in football, females are six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury according to British Orthopaedic Association data. Matildas captain Sam Kerr tearing her ACL this week is just the latest in a long string of athletes and again brought up the discussion of menstrual cycles, and overloading on the female body in sport, to light. More research is being done and more in-depth understanding on these issues is needed for female athletes to look after themselves.

Repugnant rant

Are we really still saying women cannot comment on men’s sport in 2024?

Former English footballer Joey Barton took things to a whole other level recently, attacking pundits Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward, accusing them of using their sexuality and violating marriages to get ahead, even going as far to compare them to serial killers. That was after his scathing attack on Lionesses goalkeeper Mary Earps, who was named BBC sports personality of the year, labelling her a "big sack of spuds" and making fun that the goalkeeper for the "girls team" won ahead of her male nominees.

Barton’s repugnant and obnoxious views are damaging and can have a widespread effect, especially on those young women sitting at home now thinking twice about a sporting career if they are going to face a barrage of abuse just for their gender. Laura McGoldrick, Rikki Swannell, Katey Martin, Melodie Robinson, and many more do a darn good job commentating men’s sport in New Zealand.

New Year honours

Wonderful news that Sarai Bareman has been made a dame over the summer period. The Fifa head of women’s football has done more in the sport than many of us will ever truly know. Without trailblazers like Bareman, women’s sport would not be on the trajectory it is.