The Silver Ferns have cast an eye on the future after naming a 17-strong squad for this year’s international season as they look to build depth for next year’s Commonwealth Games and beyond.
Silver Ferns selectors announced the squad this afternoon, adding a further nine athletes have been named in a Silver Ferns development squad.
Stand out performances in the ANZ Premiership have earned a call-up for Mystics shooter Grace Nweke, Steel goal attack Tiana Metuarau, Steel midcourter Kate Heffernan and Stars shooter Jamie Hume, while Mystics midcourter Peta Toeava has been recalled into the black dress.
Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua said in naming both squads, her objective was to add to the team’s talent pool for a campaign in Birmingham next year.
“We want to be clear that opportunities exist for all players irrelevant of what squad they are selected in. The squad selections are a foot in the door and I know that competition at our camps will be fierce,” Dame Noeline said.
Taurua said she had been impressed with the performances of Nweke, Metuarau and Hume throughout the ANZ Premiership and now they needed to take the next step within the Silver Ferns squad.
“The shooting circle has been an area that we have focussed on recently and it’s exciting to see how much competition there has been for spaces. While there is work still to be done, we’re pleased with the position we’re in going forward.”
The young trio join Maia Wilson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit in the shooting circle as well as captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who is on maternity leave.
Dame Noeline said Bailey Mes was unavailable for selection as they continue to manage her recovery from ongoing injuries and the priority for her would instead be rest and rehabilitation in preparation for the 2022 season.
In the midcourt, Gina Crampton, Sam Winders, Shannon Saunders and Maddy Gordon are joined by Peta Toeava, Kate Heffernan and Claire Kersten.
Dame Noeline said selections in the midcourt were some difficult given the talent available.
“This has been an area which has been extremely competitive and that fight for positions is only going to add to the strength through the middle,” she said.
The squad is rounded off with four defenders, as Tactix duo Jane Watson and Karin Burger are joined by Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kelly Jury.
The squad will meet the Australian Diamonds in a four-Test series for the Constellation Cup in October, playing on both sides of the Tasman.
Before then, three training camps including all squad members will take place over the next two months, with a Silver Ferns team and captain for the international series to be selected following these.
2021 Silver Ferns squad
Ameliaranne Ekenasio (maternity leave)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
2021 Silver Ferns Development Squad
Not considered: Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (rehab of her Achilles), Bailey Mes (noted above, rehab of her knee), Phoenix Karaka and Katrina Rore (maternity leave), along with Kayla Johnson.