Taurua hints at shake up in Ferns

Noeline Taurua. Photo: Getty Images
Noeline Taurua. Photo: Getty Images
Silver Ferns head coach Dame Noeline Taurua has hinted to a change in game-plan ahead of the long-awaited Constellation Cup.

Netball New Zealand has confirmed a four-match series between the Silver Ferns and Australia Diamonds in March after the annual series was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It'll be the first time the transtasman rivals go head-to-head since the 2019 Constellation Cup.

Taurua had her wider squad assembled over a four-day camp last week, where a stacked availability of players in the midcourt was made evident.

Admitting to the uneven spread, Taurua said it could see them make changes to their strategy.

"Our make-up of our team, like always, is never going to be the normal four [shooters], four [defenders], four [midcourters]," she said. "One of the things we've got to be prepared for is to build the depth without taking people out.

"I want to be really smart about how we use that midcourt but also giving opportunities to our experienced and looking at maybe possibly playing the game a wee bit different."

Ferns shooter-turn-midcourter Bailey Mes is one expected to float between positions in her return.

Mes' was ruled out of the ANZ Premiership and Silver Ferns last year after undergoing knee surgery for a patella cartilage injury.

But after "smashing" the Silver Ferns fitness test, Mes is lining up a spot in the Constellation Cup squad, capable of playing both shooting positions and wing attack.

"It's been a long year of rehab and watching from the sidelines," Mes said. "It's amazing to see the girls again and it's great to be running around with them.

"Having so long out you definitely miss it and it kinda feels like things have moved on but the group is amazing and we're all making the most of the opportunity we have now."

Taurua said the coming weeks would determine Mes' selection to play Australia.

The Silver Ferns haven't won the Constellation Cup since 2012, and after getting frustratingly close to the title in 2019 when the Diamonds took it out on goal percentage, Taurua said all their focus was on March.

"Winning the Constellation Cup is the very first thing," she said."That's probably the biggest thing at the forefront of my mind following the building of depth, giving others opportunities to get out there and play the best."

The Constellation Cup will be played in Christchurch Arena hosting the first two matches on March 2nd and 3rd before the action heads to Tauranga on March 6 and 7.

- Cheree Kinnear

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