Silver Ferns international schedule uncertain

The Silver Ferns' international schedule is uncertain for 2020. Photo: Getty Images
The Silver Ferns' international schedule is uncertain for 2020. Photo: Getty Images
Netball fans might have a long wait before they see the Silver Ferns' play their next international test.

Any plans rely heavily on the borders opening with Australia.

The September Quad Series involving the two trans-Tasman rivals, along with England and South Africa was canned as a result of the Covid-19 impacts on borders.

Australia and New Zealand are still hoping the Constellation Cup will take place later this year but with a recent surge in cases in Australia, that's looking more precarious.

If a trans-Tasman bubble doesn't eventuate this year, the only other option would be if the Ferns went across the ditch and went through quarantine in order to play the Diamonds, or vice versa.

But Silver Ferns' assistant coach Debbie Fuller said that hadn't been discussed.

"Not at this stage - I think Plan A is just to wait till the borders open and then go through that process and if that doesn't happen we have to be creative with how we create competitive experiences in New Zealand," Fuller said.

"If that means a Cadbury Series where you still have the physicality and skills of the men's team which tests us to the absolute limits.

"Ideally we want those borders to open but we're not going to do it at the risk of health, that's the first priority for everybody."

Fuller has been courtside for some of the ANZ Premiership games at the Auckland Netball Centre.

She and head coach Dame Noeline Taurua are available as coaching support to the ANZ head coaches.

Fuller said she was happy with the form she had seen across the whole playing group.

"There seems to be more physicality, and the numbers that we are taking in in our testing are higher than last year so the overall messaging of being able to withstand high intensity netball has got across, which is fantastic."

Fuller was excited by the depth that was starting to build.

"With young players coming through, mid-career players really exploring their limits and our more established players continually breaking benchmarks is a real indication that we're heading in the right direction with this playing group.

"I think they're pushing themselves because the 12 minute quarters means that you've actually got to attack the game, you've got to apply a whole lot of different strategies because there's no extra time in the game to adjust. It's just full noise, making decisions as you go and that's all you want to see when you're a coach."

Fuller admits the Silver Ferns' selectors will have a hard job selecting the national team this year, especially in the defensive end.

"It's just wonderful for players like Kelly Jury and Temalisi Fakahokotau who have been in the injury ranks for the past 18 months and the work that's gone into them from their support crew to get their bodies all on point to be able to perform as they do is outstanding. We have set criteria for selection so the girls are very well aware of that. The selectors are overall really pleased with the quality that we see."

Fuller said a wider Silver Ferns' squad would be named towards the end of the ANZ Premiership.

Players will go into camps in September and October to gain selection for the national team in the event a Constellation Cup with Australia is possible at the end of the year. A Silver Ferns' development squad will also be named.

Fuller said players still had time to meet the Silver Ferns' fitness requirements.

"We have to provide opportunity to other players who are interested in being part of the squad. The process is clear, it's transparent, you've got to be this by this date and if you're not there's an opportunity for you to train to give it a crack next time."

She said players were tested fortnightly throughout the competition.

"When you finish a competition you're finishing it in the best form possible because you've had that build-up time ...that's what we're looking towards the end of the ANZ competition to have that cut-off time."

Fuller said Silver Fern veteran Laura Langman, who is captain of her Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia, was still in contention and would be joining the squad when she comes back.

Planning is underway for a potential Cadbury Series later this year to give the Silver Ferns some good competition, which could involve the New Zealand Men's team.

The United Kingdom's Superleague season was cancelled in late May due to Covid-19.

And with Melbourne going back into lockdown and the impact that will have on Victoria's two Suncorp Super Netball teams, the 1 August start for Australia's competition is looking hopeful.

Fuller said New Zealand was in an outstanding position.

"We're absolutely ecstatic that we could get the ANZ up and running so the girls are still competing, training, and playing. I'm not sure what's going to happen with Suncorp in Australia but I know they're very keen to get their girls playing."

"The thing I really like about it is you see the game styles across our country. New Zealand has such a diverse range with the way we play the game."

Fuller said the leadership within the teams had also been impressive.

"There's been big shifts not only in how we play the game but also in the whole maturity of the playing group that are now kind of shifting professional netball to another level."

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