Dame Noeline Taurua has named a 14-strong squad for next month’s four-match Constellation Cup against the Australian Diamonds.
The team includes World Cup-winner Bailey Mes, who returns to the shooting circle following a lengthy injury layoff which saw her undergo knee surgery after she damaged it at the Netball Nations Cup in London last year.
Mes said her return has been a long time coming.
“It was a really long process getting back on court but I’m back to not quite full games yet but getting there and it’s all going really well,” Mes told the Country Sport Breakfast.
“It was a very subtle injury and it took a while to figure out what was going on which added to the length of time. Once I decided to have surgery we hit the first lock down so just various things that have slowed down the process.”
Meanwhile, midcourter Maddy Gordon has earned her second call up to the side after being named in the Silver Ferns late last year and will look to make her international debut.
Gordon adds to a heavy midcourt presence, which Taurua said she was excited to unleash.
“Silver Ferns and New Zealand netball is laden with amazing midcourt players at the moment. They all have a point of difference and they all are impressively fit and hard workers,” she said.
The series marks the first time in over a year since the World No. 1 Australian Diamonds played an international test.
“I know the Diamonds will be excited to get back out on court after such a long break from playing international netball,” Taurua said. “We are equally excited to play all four tests against the world number one netball team on our home soil in front of our home crowd,.
“It’s series like these, against our long-time rivals, which really showcases the best netball ever.”
The timing and nature of the series, as both teams build towards the Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup, meant Taurua wanted to take a bigger squad of 14 from which she would pick a team of 12 before each match.
The first two tests will be played at the Christchurch Arena on 2 and 3 March while the Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga hosts two matches on 6 and 7 March.
Silver Ferns – Constellation Cup
Shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio Monica Falkner Bailey Mes Maia Wilson
Midcourters Maddy Gordon Gina Crampton Claire Kersten Kimiora Poi Shannon Saunders Whitney Souness Samantha Winders
Defenders Karin Burger Sulu Fitzpatrick Jane Watson