Netball: Quiet show of faith repaid in debut test

Katrina Grant
Katrina Grant
There was little fanfare when Steel defender Katrina Grant learned she would be fulfilling a dream and making her international debut in Auckland on Saturday night.

The 21-year-old University of Otago student was sitting in her hotel room the night before the crucial second test against Australia when Silver Ferns assistant coach Waimarama Taumaunu wandered in and took a pew beside Grant on her bed.

"You want to start tomorrow?" Taumaunu asked.

"I can do that," the stunned Grant replied.

"I know you can," Taumaunu said, and promptly left without saying anything else.

It was a huge show of faith in Grant.

The Silver Ferns had lost the first game of the two-game series and were under enormous pressure to turn their performance around.

But Grant had been training so well her form demanded inclusion, Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken later said after the 38-31 win.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," Grant said.

"I was pretty nervous that night."

She managed to get to sleep but woke up at 2am and spent the rest of the night trying not to think about the big match.

By the time the match rolled around Grant was so keyed up she can not remember much about the early exchanges.

The Silver Ferns shot out to a lead before the Diamonds rallied.

But by half-time the home side had built an impressive eight-goal lead.

Grant and player-of-the-match Casey Williams outplayed experienced Australian shooter Catherine Cox and goal attack Susan Pratley.

Aitken opted to replace Grant at half-time but by then most of the hard work had been done and the coach's show of faith had been rewarded.

Grant was pleased to have made her debut against Australia and to have played so well, but she was quick to share the accolades.

"Having Casey and Jules [Julie Seymour] around me made it easy because they are just such awesome players."

Grant also had plenty of support in the crowd.

Her father, John, and sister, Natalie, watched her debut.

Her room-mate while in camp with the Silver Ferns was her new Steel team-mate, Sheryl Scanlan.

Scanlan replaced Grant at half-time in the test, and the pair will likely compete for starting spots in the Steel squad next year.

But talk of that rivalry was put on hold to discuss the Steel's prospects.

With former Silver Ferns captain Adine Wilson and dual netball and basketball international Donna Wilkins also joining the Steel campaign, and Silver Ferns shooter Daneka Wipiiti in the side, the southerners look to have assembled a formidable team.

Perhaps a top-four side?

"Top four? I'm aiming for at least the top two," Grant responded.

The Silver Ferns assemble in early October to prepare for a three-game series against England.

The second test of the series is in Dunedin on October 15.

Grant was born in Auckland but considers Dunedin home after spending the last three years here playing netball and attending university.


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