From a Ferns perspective I always expected it to get worse before it got better, especially without Ekenasio there – for both her on and off court contributions.
There was an earlier mention re Ferns hype about fitness but they are always slow to start or fade late in games. I expect Taurua to remain in her role, but her constant mentions of intensity – whether it be a lack of it at ANZP level or difficulty maintaining it in the Ferns environment is the unlock she’s trying to solve. I wonder if she may look to freshen up her assistant coach/S&C for the next cycle? Bring in new thinking?
If Eke carries on until 2027 our other GA needs to be prepared to share minutes with her as I don’t think she’s a 60 min player anymore. Metuarau and now Heffernan and Malesala have all had a taste, over to them to make their mark in ANZP. Wilson is looking largely redundant if she can’t reinvent herself as a reliable GA a la Thwaites. Also think Noels/whoever takes over has to remember to develop Walmsley too. Yes Nweke is still relatively inexperienced but as NWC showed, if we don’t have that strong back-up option we’re screwed.
The midcourt is a funny one and will persist for a while. Without Crampton (who I noted from a Storm Purvis IG post this week has moved to Sydney with Jamie Hume FYI..) we’re still shuffling through the options. Unsure if MRB is the answer at WA after the last few series. Best I’ve seen Souness play since CWG and think her and Gordon will be better for their ANZP season together. I suspect Earle will go from strength to strength after her Ferns experience and think Kate Heff’s next 1-2 years is firmly at WD.
Defence wise, they’re all talented individuals but gee they’re inconsistent. At their best Burger and Jury are world class but were found wanting during this series. Karaka for her speccy intercepts and beautiful bringing of the ball through court really struggles against the big nations and I think we may have seen the last of Watson in a black dress. Stythe and Burley have it all to play for in ANZP.