Current INF World Ranking: 4th
Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maria Folau, Phoenix Karaka, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman, Bailey Mes, Katrina Rore, Shannon Saunders, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jane Watson
Captain: Laura Langman
Median age: 29
Player with the most caps: Laura Langman (151 caps)
Players with the least caps: Karin Burger (5 caps)
‘Experienced’ is one word used to describe the New Zealand Silver Ferns squad who will be contending the 2019 Netball World Cup. The line-up boasts four players with in-excess of 100 test caps; an additional two players with over 50 test caps; and nine of their players have big tournament experience including five athletes who have played at least one Netball World Cup.
Despite this, certain player selections raised a few eyebrows: none more so than seasoned goal attack, Bailey Mes.
Silver Ferns fans question Mes’ selection due to her goaling stats during the 2018 ANZ Championship where she shot at 73% accuracy. This percentage seems low to some, but when consideration is given to the other assets Mes brings to the New Zealand front line, she is a wise choice. Mes is a strong rebounder, quick off the line, agile in defence and has safe hands.
The Ferns other shooting options of Maria Folau, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Te Paea Selby-Rickit make up a tall, fluid and confident attacking unit. All of these shooters are comfortable in either position and don’t mind putting up shots from range.
Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua, has said that she expects safe hands from her front line because while positive shooting stats are nice, she notes that the ability to take the hard physical, on-the-body contest is more important, “you need to be able to get the ball before you can put the ball through the hoop.”
The Silver Ferns’ mid-court will be spearheaded by their captain, and netball royalty, Laura Langman. Fresh off her 2018 sabbatical, Langman is in arguably the best form of her career. She will be assisted by a mixture of experienced and dynamic fresh blood in Gina Crampton, Karin Burger and Shannon Saunders.
Of this mid-court, Taurua expects the ability to repeatedly reoffer. She implores her feeders to keep possession of the ball and if need be “grind again. So, fitness efforts need to be high.”
Taurua wants her defensive unit to use their creativity. With a back line featuring Casey Kopua, Katrina Rore, Phoenix Karaka and Jane Watson there is no doubt that defenders will do just that.
Taurua has asked for this creativity because she knows her defenders aren’t as tall as some of the ‘monsters’ in the competition. But what they lack in height, they make up for with dogged tagging, ability to chase down loose balls and rangy arms-over pressure. There is no doubt that this backline is up to task.
Predicted 2019 World Cup Placing: definitely within the top 4 – if not top 2.