Sports Call - The reputation of New Zealand Netball doesn't lie in a gold medal at next month's Commonwealth Games, but in the unassuming Taini Jamison trophy series, writes Ravinder Hunia.
The Silver Ferns have measured themselves against the best in the world over the past few international series with results left to be desired.
With that came the conclusion that the team runs the risk of potentially under performing at the Commonwealth Games despite preparations - starting with the Taini Jamison trophy series tonight.
The placement of the tournament was strategically slipped into the netball calendar as a warm up to the games after the Northern Quad series calmed down.
And it's here the Ferns have the most to play for.
With the international skill constantly rising thanks to inclusive domestic competitions, the Silver Ferns could be guilty of not evolving in an attempt to keep the 'kiwi-style of play'.
Last year athletes were prohibited from playing overseas to have any chance of vying for the black dress.
The Taini Jamison Trophy series includes New Zealand, Jamaica, Malawi and Fiji at the North Shore Events Centre.
The last time the ferns faced Jamaica was in 2016, and Malawi and Fiji were both in 2015. New Zealand came away from all three with wins, some very close.
So while on paper it would seem the second best team in the world don't have much worry about, they do.
If successful, the Silver Ferns will retain the Taini Jamison trophy that they have never lost, and it will help build strength and belief within the squad ahead of the pinnacle event on the Gold Coast next month.
But with an injury ravaged side, Coach Janine Southby wouldn't be blamed if she felt nervous opening the campaign against Malawi knowing the reputation of the squad under her tenure is on the line.
"That sits in the back of our minds, we know there is a proud history and we are out there to make sure it stays in our hands," Ms Southby said.
"Malawi is coming off recent form against the Silver Ferns, a three goal and six goal loss last time we played them in 2015 and they have a pretty similar team."
"I wouldn't say they're easy."
The worrying injury toll includes Kayla Cullen who will not feature in this series and veteran shooter Maria Folau who is still in doubt - both suffering knee injuries.
The fortunate timing of tomorrow's series means new combinations and strategies can be implemented with an under-strength side, leaving Folau to rehabilitate for what will be her final curtain call at a Commonwealth Games.
"Bigger picture is Comm Games. I would rather be playing every quarter if the opportunity arises at the Comm Games rather than the Taini Jamison," Folau said.
"Comm Games is what we are all gunning for."
"We let ourselves down in the last tours, we cannot perform like that at Comm Games because we've been found out big time."
The Taini Jamison Trophy series begins today with the Jamaican Sunshine Girls playing Fiji Pearls in game one at 6.10pm, then the Silver Ferns will play the Malawi Queens at 8.10pm.
The Silver Ferns starting seven will be announced one hour before their first match.