New personnel, leaders but don’t discount Ferns

New Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, seen here shooting against Australia in a...
New Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, seen here shooting against Australia in a Constellation Cup match, has big shoes to fill at the Nations Cup in the absence of Laura Langman (background). PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The silver Ferns begin their 2020 campaign on Monday morning in the first game of the Netball Nations Cup in England. Jeff Cheshire looks at some key areas as the New Zealanders look to back up last year's World Cup triumph. 

Can they back up last year’s heroics?

This is the biggest question of all and what it all comes down to.

Was last year a fluke or are the Silver Ferns really back?

Perhaps it is an unfair comparison.

This is a different-looking team to that of last year. A lot of experience and quality is gone.

But we all entered 2019 with plenty of pessimism.

Noeline Taurua worked her magic with that group and there is no reason to doubt whether she can do it again.

Australia, England and South Africa all boast strong line-ups and will offer a good gauge of where this team is at.

How will they replace their veterans?

Maria Folau and Casey Kopua have retired.

Laura Langman and Katrina Rore are on sabbaticals.

Last time the side was without Langman and Kopua it struggled.

Adding in the absence of Folau and Rore makes for a ton of experience lost.

However, it is also an opportunity for others to claim those starting bibs.

Who claims them and how they go in them remains to be seen.

How will the new leadership group fare?

The Silver Ferns have a new captain in Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

In Gina Crampton and Jane Watson they also have two new vice-captains.

All three have been outstanding in recent times and are heavily influential in their ANZ Premiership teams. But leading New Zealand is another step.

It is one that at some point you have to take, and there is no doubt all three are capable of filling the roles.

However, it will add to the challenge having a trio that are all new to those positions.

Nations Cup

Silver Ferns schedule (NZ time):
Monday 6am: v England in Nottingham.
Thursday 6.30am: v Jamaica in Birmingham.
January 26, 3.30am: v South Africa in London.
January 27, 6am: Final in London.

Silver Ferns squad:  Shooters: Ameliaranne Ekenasio (c), Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Bailey Mes, Maia Wilson. Midcourters: Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders, Whitney Souness, Kimiora Poi. Defenders: Jane Watson, Karin Burger, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Phoenix Karaka.

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