16 Dec 2018

Noeline Taurua was right to exclude Rore

6:06 am on 16 December 2018

Sports call - Veteran netballer Katrina Rore's omission from the Silver Ferns has shocked many but coach Noeline Taurua has made the right decision.

Katrina Rore (nee Grant) in action against Malawi at the 2018 Taini Jamison trophy

Katrina Rore (nee Grant) in action against Malawi at the 2018 Taini Jamison trophy Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

This week's Silver Ferns selections camp was not a dress rehearsal.

Coach Noeline Taurua's 12 players selected for the upcoming Quad Series in England, in her opinion, is a step closer to a New Zealand gold medal at next year's Netball World Cup.

This is what Taurua was hired to do.

I do admit that when I looked at the team sheet at the Silver Ferns announcement and the 125-test cap veteran Katrina Rore's name was missing my heart dropped.

Immediately questions swirled about how this happened and 'could not have possibly been due to her performance this week' turns out that's exactly what it was.

Is it any wonder though? Rore's unwanted trip to hell and back for the Silver Ferns this year would wear out the best of athletes.

We all remember Rore (nee Grant) wearing her heart on her sleeve during the Commonwealth Games, fronting media and crying on national television in a bid to reflect the 'mana' she still had for the black dress despite historical defeats - it wasn't only a defining moment for her captaincy but her character as well.

Katrina Rore (nee Grant) reacting to 9-point loss to England at 2018 Commonwealth Games

Katrina Rore (nee Grant) reacting to 9-point loss to England at 2018 Commonwealth Games Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

She wore that Commonwealth Games campaign like she was solely at fault.

The result of Netball New Zealand's review in wake of those Games saw the appointment of Taurua - a refreshing, well needed change although another change was on the horizon.

The players were given the power to vote for a captain, a vote Rore didn't win being forced to pass the crown over to midcourt saviour Laura Langman. Rore always said she wasn't disappointed about it and was simply thankful she was selected at all.

With a team that Taurua was gifted on the advice of New Zealand selectors, Rore played every minute of every quarter in every game during the Quad and Constellation Cup series.

So, no one in their right mind would ever question Rore's ability, skill or passion but it's this ethic that may have worked against her.

This week's national selection process was the toughest any player had experienced and Taurua admitted it was designed to shock her athletes.

The camp was not based on the amount of test caps you have, in Taurua's words "who you are or who you aren't" nor was it based on finding strength in a team who has seen very dark days - this week wasn't about any of that.

Excluding Rore gives the defensive end a new lease on life. Playing every minute of a game restricts showing a side's full potential, and instead, forces players to adapt to Rore's style of play at all times.

So why not at least select Rore in the final four?

Let's not take away from who have been selected, New Zealand is very wealthy in defensive talent.

Casey Kopua has returned in the hardest of conditions and will most likely slot in at goal-keep and will lead traffic under the hoop. She will be battling for a start against the in-form Jane Watson whose turnover rate this year was pivotal, in Kopua's favour though hasn't quite nailed the directing from the back.

Magic captain Casey Kopua directing players in the ANZ Premiership

Magic captain Casey Kopua directing players in the ANZ Premiership Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2017 www.photosport.nz

But Rore's home was at goal defence. Pulse teammate Karin Burger impressed this week but with limited court time this year. Her ability to hunt and turnover ball for a rookie is impressive. The only criticism would be switching from defence to attack, a lot of ball lost there - cue Erena Mikaere.

Like Burger, Mikaere can play goal-keep, goal-defence and wing-defence and her experience may trump Burger. Mikaere has notable long limbs that deflects ball from anywhere and is often compared to former Silver Fern Anna Harrison.

Ultimately though it eliminates predictability by any opposition. No side will be able to plan for what this structure will bring. Rore celebrated her tenth year as a Silver Fern in September and no doubt many coaches would have a firm understanding of her style of play and habits.

This isn't the end for Rore and is a stroke of genius by Taurua.

Rore can now return to this fold and adapt to a fresh environment which will only improve her as a player. She has never had the luxury of sitting back, watching and evaluating herself to consider what unique tricks she can bring to a foreign combination - her combination with Sulu Fitzpatrick this domestic season is a testament to that.

The omission has disappointed many, I'm guessing no one more so than Rore herself. She only needs to look to her teammates Casey Kopua and Laura Langman to know that a welcomed return is never off the table.