11 Dec 2018

Netball: Temepara Bailey not ruling out an international return

12:51 pm on 11 December 2018

Former Silver Fern great Temepara Bailey isn't ruling out a possible return to international netball should the opportunity present itself.

Temepara Bailey playing for the Silver Ferns in 2001

Temepara Bailey playing for the Silver Ferns in 2001 Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

The former Silver Fern midcourter has copped it royally about returning to elite netball at the tender age of 43 years old but according to her "age is only but a number".

Since Temepara Bailey officially signed off her thirteen year career in 2011, she has served as a netball broadcaster and assistant coach to the Northern Stars (though she had a mini-comeback for the Northern Mystics in 2014).

She will once again grace a top tier netball court, this time for her South Auckland franchise the Stars to fight tooth and nail to leave netball in her region in a good place.

"For me I don't really worry about the age, we have jokes within our group but it is about what you can produce so if your body is willing and your mind is there you will be fine," says Bailey

"This is where I started my netball, in the south, and the Stars means a lot to me in that regard, says Bailey

With a domestic netball contract in toe she automatically qualifies to be considered for a national squad.

The Silver Ferns and its potentials are already in camp for the upcoming Quad Series with selections due this week making an inclusion unlikely any time soon, though Bailey isn't ruling out a comeback post the Netball World Cup.

"I'm concentrating on what's here and now and there are so many other great players around and for me it's about this task that I've got in front of me, says Bailey

"My thoughts aren't at that stage and if it ever happens then I'll deal with it, if it does, if it doesn't I'm happy."

Her immediate priority is strengthening netball in her home region of South Auckland.

Bailey grew up here and reminisces on when she used to play netball in a Mangere carpark with the netball boundaries drawn on concrete before migrating to the legendary Browns Road courts in Manurewa.

Bailey's early domestic netball saw her play for the Counties Manukau Cometz, which is now known as a feeder team to the Northern Stars.

Temepara Bailey and Northern Stars teammate Leana de Bruin celebrating a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games

Temepara Bailey and Northern Stars teammate Leana de Bruin celebrating a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT 2010 www.photosport.co.nz

It's a homecoming for the ages and though many see her age as a negative, she sees her seasoned as essential to her side's midcourt.

The 89 test-cap veteran won back-to-back gold medals with the Silver Ferns at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, a gold and silver medal at the 2003 and 2011 World Cups and gold at the 2009 World Netball Series.

It's quickly becoming common to see experienced players play in the midcourt which is touted the area in which to steer the ship, an area New Zealand midcourter Laura Langman recently claimed back in the Silver Ferns

"They are bossy (she laughs) no no, it's because you are right throughout the court and you can direct - that is something that has changed since I was around, it's much more quieter now on court," says Bailey.

"It's trying to start that communication but I think once that is started then there will be a lot of leaders and direction out there."

"I'm looking forward to seeing that evolve and I'm looking forward to staying injury free and playing well."