21 Oct 2019

Ekenasio 'point of difference' for Silver Ferns, says Aussie coach

10:56 am on 21 October 2019

Australian Diamonds' coach Lisa Alexander has heaped praise on the Silver Ferns' shooting duo of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maria Folau.

Silver Ferns Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The world champions will take a 2-1 lead into next Sunday's final Constellation Cup Test in Perth, after beating Australia 54-53 in Sydney yesterday.

Alexander said New Zealand's shooters played a key role in the win.

"Particularly I think Ameliaranne and Maria, they worked their absolute backsides off and made it really difficult for us to turn ball over."

Alexander believed Australian-born shooter Ekenasio had been the "point of difference" for New Zealand in their breakthrough year.

Ekenasio and veteran Folau each shot 27 goals, with the former missing only two attempts.

The two have formed an increasingly productive combination but Alexander said there was no resentment that the 27-year-old Ekenasio started her netball in the Australian system.

"It actually makes me proud, I know it sounds weird," said Alexander.

Ekenasio, or Ameliaranne Wells, as she was known then, was part of the Queensland Firebirds program between 2011 and 2014.

She struggled for court time and her career only took off when she moved to New Zealand, where her family hails from.

"She didn't blossom here, so she had to go somewhere else to find her way. She found it back in really her homeland; I suppose where her family is from.

"I'm actually kind of really proud of her in a funny way but I don't like her beating us either."

Alexander said veteran Folau had also matured as a netballer.

Folau owned the goal attack position for a decade before the former coach Janine Southby first experimented with her at goal shoot about three years ago.

Current Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua has also preferred her in that position.

Alexander said Folau has done well in her new role, which had also allowed Ekenasio to flourish at goal attack.

"I'm actually admiring that because I've had to coach against her for the past eight years and try and plot her downfall. She's actually really hard to plot the downfall on now because she plays a role and is really disciplined with it and her mental strength at the World Cup was amazing."

Alexander said she had plans combat Ekenasio, suggesting that might include giving a Diamonds' debut to NSW Swifts defender Maddy Turner, the only player in her squad yet to get a run in the series.

New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua also praised Ekenasio's her temperament.

"She's got such a lovely manner about her and I suppose for her it was also her ability to come home in some respect and having your feet on the land also makes a difference," Taurua said.

"We're really happy with what she's been able to do."