5 Mar 2019

Year of the Cups: Netball World Cup 2019

12:00 pm on 5 March 2019

With only 129 days until the first centre pass of the 2019 Netball World Cup, RNZ Sport turns the spotlight on the competition.

Year of the Cups Netball graphic

Graphic: Michel Mulipola

Where and when is the Netball World Cup and how do I monitor it?

The 15th edition of the Netball World Cup will be held in Liverpool, UK, from 12 July to 21 July 2019.

All 60 matches will be played between 16 teams on two courts at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Preliminary matches will be played from 12-14 July, second round of preliminaries from 15-18 July, and the play-offs and finals matches from 19-21 July.

The tournament will be aired on Sky Television regardless of whether New Zealand make the finals or not.

How did New Zealand qualify for the Netball World Cup and what are the Silver Ferns' chances?

New Zealand are ranked number two in the world with the top six ranked teams automatically qualifying - the top 16 ranked teams can take part in the world cup.

For the remaining 10 spots, Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Oceania hold regional qualifying events where the two top teams progress.

Can the Silver Ferns shoot their way to a 5th World Cup in Liverpool?

Can the Silver Ferns shoot their way to a 5th World Cup in Liverpool? Photo: © Patrick Hamilton / Photosport. All Rights Reserved

The top six teams, including the Silver Ferns, compete in international tournaments throughout the international season (Taini Jamison Trophy, Constellation Cup & Netball Quad Series) where world ranking points are on the line.

The Silver Ferns fell to third in the world following their disappointing fourth-placed finish at last year's Commonwealth Games, but under new coach Noeline Taurua, the Silver Ferns have reclaimed second place by defeating South Africa in the Quad Series, and Australia in game three of the Constellation Cup.

New Zealand suffered losses to both Australia and England in the Quad Series in Auckland and the Northern Quad series in Liverpool - Australia claimed both titles.

New Zealand have a chance to sharpen their swords again in June with a series to be played against, at this stage, an unknown opponent.

Who is in the Silver Ferns team?

Taurua will take a team of 12 to compete for the World Cup.

Veteran Laura Langman captained the side during the Northern Quad series tour, with returning legend Casey Kopua vice-captain. Kopua is the captain of Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Langman a midcourter for Taurua's Sunshine Coast Lightning side in Australia.

Co-captains Kopua and Langman at Silver Ferns training

Co-captains Kopua and Langman at Silver Ferns training Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Taurua gave the Silver Ferns a selection shake up at the end of last year bringing Kopua out of retirement, while Langman and Maria Folau are both able to play for New Zealand despite being based in Australia, under new contract agreements.

Jane Watson and Sam Sinclair were familiar faces with the return of Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maia Wilson and Whitney Souness - plus new editions Kimiora Poi, Karin Burger and Erena Mikaere.

Katrina Grant is trying everything she can to get back into the black dress

Katrina Grant is trying everything she can to get back into the black dress Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Notable omissions were former captain Katrina Rore (nee Grant) and Te Paea Selby-Rickit, but both have a chance to be re-injected when Taurua names her squad at the end of May.

Is the Silver Ferns roster set in stone for the World Cup?

It's thought that Taurua has been grooming these players during the international season specifically for the World Cup, but those who weren't selected have been given instructions if they wish to compete for a spot again.

A selection pool of 25 players will determine the final 12.

Who are the teams to watch at the Netball World Cup?

Since New Zealand's World Cup win in 2003, the world of netball has evolved vastly.

At the time, the only threat to the crown was Australia, but now the Silver Ferns have to contend with five other countries for top spot.

A team which has stayed under the radar are Jamaica's Sunshine Girls, but they've been busy.

They won the last two games against New Zealand to claim the 2018 Taini Jamison Trophy series, and most recently, managed a clean sweep of the Sunshine Series defeating Trinidad and Tobago and then beat Commonwealth Games champions England in all three matches.

Can England back up a Commonwealth Games gold medal with a World Cup title?

Can England back up a Commonwealth Games gold medal with a World Cup title? Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

England may have lost to Jamaica, but did so with an under-strength team. The last time New Zealand beat the Roses was in September 2017.

Then there's the historic gold medal they won at the 2018 Commonwealth Games defeating Australia 52-49 in the final.

But don't count out South Africa. Under Norma Plummer, each year the fifth ranked side go from strength to strength, with a narrow loss to New Zealand in the recent Quad Series in overtime, and notched up a rare win over England proving their growth.

The Malawi Queens are also ones to watch, who in the past, have been an achilles heel for New Zealand. Malawi's dynamic style got the better of New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games 57-53 and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Then there are the juggernauts of the game - Australia. The Diamonds have dominated the World Cup stage since 1963 - winning 11 of the 14 previous world cups - they've also never missed a finals match.

While other countries have improved over the years, Australia have held strong at the top and despite losing the final match at the Commonwealth Games, the Diamonds will be the team to beat in Liverpool.

The advantage other teams have now is belief after seeing England beat the reigning champions, proving that they are in fact beatable, or does that only fuel Australia's World Cup fire? Right now, that's down to preparation.

Who will New Zealand face at the Netball World Cup and what does the road to the title look like?

Netball World Cup Pool Play

- Netball World Cup Pool Play Photo: nwc2019.co.uk

New Zealand are grouped in Pool B joining Malawi, Barbados, and Singapore. The Silver Ferns will play Malawi on day one, Barbados on day two and Singapore on day three.

The top three countries in each group will progress to stage two preliminaries starting on 15 July, dependent on stage one results.

For all the updates on the Silver Ferns road to the World Cup, keep an ear on RNZ National and an eye on the RNZ website.

RNZ will be looking at all the major World Cups throughout the week - tomorrow we'll be casting the spotlight on the Cricket World Cup.