Netball: Ferns face challenge in finding new shooters

The philosophy is simple for Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby - pick them young and get them up to speed quickly.

Southby named three youngsters in her 28-strong Silver Ferns and New Zealand A trial squad on Wednesday as she prepared to tackle what she described as a "shooting crisis''.

Two of them, the Steel's Jamie Hume and Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Monica Falkner, have not been sighted in this year's ANZ Championship, while 18-year-old Pulse shooter Maia Wilson has been a revelation in her first season and has been thrown into the mix immediately.

Of the other shooters named in the squad, one is uncapped and two have played seven or fewer matches at the top level.

The Steel's Te Paea Selby-Rickit will push for a place in the national side for the first time, while Ameliaranne Wells (Pulse) and Ellen Halpenny (Magic) will be looking to add to their four and seven test caps respectively.

There is some experience in the squad, but that is tempered by separate concerns.

Cathrine Tuivaiti, who has earned 24 test caps since her debut in 2011, was left out of the New Zealand side for last year's netball world championships in Sydney.

She shot an impressive 94% in this year's ANZ Championship but did not put up the number of shots many of her counterparts did.

Mystics teammate Maria Tutaia, a 102-test veteran, is undoubtedly the spearhead in the shooting department but shot a disappointing 78% in this year's competition.

Both players are 29 years old and there is a dearth of tried and tested players below them.

Bailey Mes, who has played 26 tests since debuting in 2011, also shot below par, at 77%, in this year's ANZ Championship.

The problem has been exacerbated by the continued presence of imports in the shooting circle among the New Zealand franchises.

The Steel has relied heavily on Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, while Malawian international Mwai Kumwenda and England's Jo Harten have turned out for the Tactix and Magic, respectively.

Compounding the situation further for Southby, veteran Jodi Brown was forced to retire after suffering a career-ending knee injury before the season started and 21-year-old Magic shooter Malia Paseka, with six test caps, announced she was pregnant mid-season.

Southby cannot be accused of not putting a succession plan in place. She appears to be looking far beyond the immediate future in an effort to create some long-term depth in the position.

 


Where have the shooters gone?

 

2011 WORLD CUP

Paula Griffin (28), 15 caps - Last seen in Silver Ferns dress at global tournament five years ago. Transferred from Mystics to Magic this year to replace pregnant Casey Kopua. Out of favour.

Anna Thompson (30), 13 caps - Last played for New Zealand at Fast5 tournament in Auckland in 2013. Now plays in midcourt for Tactix.

Irene van Dyk, retired - Played 145 tests for New Zealand. Retired from internationals in 2014 and from ANZ Championship last year.

Maria Tutaia (29), 102 caps - Mystics captain and Silver Ferns certainty this year.

 

2015 WORLD CUP

Jodi Brown, retired - Suffered career-ending injury before season started. Forced to retire.

Malia Paseka (21), 6 caps - Announced she was pregnant midway through season. Won't be seen again this year.

Bailey Mes (27), 26 caps - Played full season for Tactix and should make squad this year.


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