Silver Ferns well-prepped for challenges of Taini Jamison Trophy
Fresh from two intense training camps, the Silver Ferns have the perfect opportunity to add the polish during next week’s challenging Taini Jamison Trophy netball tournament on the North Shore.
The Silver Ferns will host the Fiji Pearls, Jamaica Sunshine Girls and Malawi Queens in a timely lead-in to April’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Camps in Wellington and Dunedin provided the opportunity to target specific work-ons while games against the Southern Steel and two against Mainland Tactix helped with game plans, structures and team focus.
``The ultimate goal is the Commonwealth Games and the Taini Jamison is the time for us to nail the finer detail of what we’ve been working on,’’ Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant said. ``The more times we play our combinations together, work on specific game plans and our consistency is key for us.
``Those three games will be crucial in making sure we keep to our structures and converting what we have been practising.’’
With shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio returning to the team after the birth of her first child and exciting young defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson also added to the mix, the Silver Ferns are ready to test their mettle against three contrasting teams during the March 21-24 series.
The emphasis during the camps of more honest talk and feedback has resulted in a positive response from the players.
``It has meant that people are growing on the court quicker which means off the court it flows more and everybody is a lot more honest, open and freely speaking.
``Sometimes when you’re younger or of limited experience, and it’s no fault of anybody’s, you can sit back and don’t want to give too much but at the moment it’s been really good and everyone’s speaking up no matter what.
``Michaela has been a great example of that. She is young and only just come into the Silver Ferns but she has no qualms of speaking and opening up and that’s exactly what we need for anyone coming into this environment.’’
The Taini Jamison Trophy offers the Silver Ferns the perfect introduction to the Commonwealth Games, where they will come up against a variety of styles on a daily basis for the duration of the event.
The Silver Ferns have not played any of the trio recently but Grant is expecting all of Fiji, Jamaica and Malawi to offer challenges of a differing nature.
Malawi test most teams they come up against with their unorthodox style and ability to retain possession for long periods while a tall, full-strength Jamaica is always a tough proposition and the lesser-known and athletic Fiji present with another totally different style.
Grant, the most capped defender in Silver Ferns history, is eager to get going, intent on stamping her mark.
``I’m probably in the best nick of my career at the moment,’’ she said. ``The Commonwealth Games and with the Taini Jamison Trophy being a part of that end goal, mean a lot to me.``Leading the team makes it a bit harder because there’s a little bit more pressure on you but I’m relishing that as being exciting. I just need to make sure that I’m in the best shape I can be to do my own job properly and that’s to lead by example.’’