23 Sep 2020

England series would be massive - Ferns coach Dame Noeline

8:04 am on 23 September 2020

The Silver Ferns won't get to meet the number one world ranked Australian Diamonds this year but a home series against England is on the cards.

Silver Ferns Ameliaranne Ekenasio shoots for goal against the England defense.

Silver Ferns Ameliaranne Ekenasio shoots for goal against the England defence. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand announced yesterday the annual Constellation Cup is being postponed until next year with quarantine requirements and concerns about player welfare too difficult to overcome.

Australia's condensed domestic netball competition started much later than New Zealand's. The final is being played on 18 October, and most players have had to stay in a hub in Queensland for the majority of it.

The hope is that the Silver Ferns and Diamonds will battle for two Constellation Cup titles next year, with one series scheduled for January/February and a second meeting scheduled for October.

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua said it was disappointing but there was a strong drive for 2021.

"Not necessarily will there be two Constellation Cups but negotiations will probably have to take place to make sure we can get one Constellation Cup running at least and also looking at what needs to happen with the other countries that we have also committed to," said Dame Noeline.

The Silver Ferns usually start each year with a series involving South Africa, England, and sometimes Jamaica.

"We have to acknowledge that and how we negotiate what the international campaign or schedule's going to look like for 2021."

Netball New Zealand are hoping to make an announcement any day now on a home series against England, who they've also had ongoing discussions with.

"They are still on the table and even though there's a bit to work through it's positive and it's still alive and so hopefully we can get England over the line."

England are ranked third in the world and Dame Noeline said it would be a "massive" series.

"We're probably quite lucky in that respect New Zealand and England where we have had international games at the beginning of the season. If we can play up against each other at the end of this season that's an absolute bonus, noting that Australia haven't been as fortunate as us to actually get the Diamonds out on court this year."

Sunshine Coast Lightning and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua

Sunshine Coast Lightning and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua Photo: Photography

The Silver Ferns' coach will be hoping that the timing of any series will allow England internationals playing in Australia's competition to join the side in New Zealand.

The Roses would be quite a different team without world class players such as Geva Mentor, Helen Housby, and Jo Harten, who ply their trade across the Tasman.

"Those are part of the discussions ...can understand with both Australia and also England that they would have wanted to foot their best team possible which is why when you add it to all the other variables it makes negotiations difficult to be able to navigate through."

The Silver Ferns will return to the netball court next month in a domestic series.

Netball New Zealand confirmed yesterday the world champions will suit up against the New Zealand Men, a New Zealand A side and the New Zealand Under 21s in Palmerston North from October 21-24.

Dame Noeline said she was happy to be able to build on last year's Cadbury Series.

"Hopefully with the involvement of the men it's not just a token gesture and something that is meaningful and to have the men play in this type of series it's also going to help us in regards to that physical style that we are going to come up against."

NZ Men's Junior Levi on defence against Silver Ferns Jane Watson.

NZ Men's Junior Levi on defence against Silver Ferns Jane Watson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Some of the most experienced players from the New Zealand Men's team are based in Australia so would have to cough up thousands of dollars to go into quarantine if they wanted to play in the series.

The 2.14m tall shooter Junior Levi is based in Melbourne, while Matt Wetere, who captained the side during last year's Cadbury series is based in Sydney.

But Dame Noeline said some were still willing to make the sacrifice and the men's side would be formidable either way.

"The talk is really positive out of those ones who do live in Australia. We are very fortunate in New Zealand that we do have a lot of men who play high quality netball so to add the Kiwi ones who are currently residing in Australia to that mix can only improve the quality, which is a bonus and that they're willing to do that. I couldn't be happier leading into hopefully a Taini Jamison trophy series would be great."

She said being able to expose the Under 21 players to tough opposition before the World Youth Cup at the end of next year, would only be good for them.

She plans on working closely with all three squads to build depth and is keen to broaden the Silver Ferns base by giving more opportunities to players to wear the black dress.

Dame Noeline will be working with over 40 athletes at the two camps leading into the Cadbury Series and said she would be doing something a bit different this year by "putting all the cards on the table."

"Providing athletes meet the fitness criteria and that's set in stone, I will look to use both camps and also the Cadbury Series as the selection and a trial. Hopefully if we can plan really well we can use and rotate players up and down in the hope of building depth but also post Cadbury select the final Silver Ferns team to hopefully play the Taini Jamison."