16 Apr 2024

Netball: ANZ Round 1 wrap - Next generation of defenders on show

9:27 am on 16 April 2024
Pulse defender Parris Mason (left) and Mystics defender Carys Stythe (right).

Pulse defender Parris Mason (left) and Mystics defender Carys Stythe (right). Photo: Photosport

Analysis - The first round of netball's ANZ Premiership gave a glimpse into the next generation of defenders and the Silver Ferns coach might need to fast-track some of them.

Between Jane Watson 34, Phoenix Karaka 30, Karin Burger 31, and Kelly Jackson (nee Jury) 27, the current Silver Ferns defensive cohort is the most 'mature' area of the court.

Burger has spoken about her determination to be at the next World Cup in 2027, but Watson and Karaka might not be around at the next pinnacle event.

Silver Fern squad member Kate Burley is the next cab off the rank. She's been chasing an elusive debut in the black dress and the 26-year-old deserves it.

Burley throws herself at everything on the court, she's equally proficient at goal keep and goal defence, and has got great elevation.

Mystics defender Carys Stythe v the Pulse in the national netball league at The Trusts Stadium on Sunday 27 March

Mystics defender Carys Stythe Photo: Photosport

Wing defence/goal defence slide Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is back in the Silver Ferns mix after rediscovering her best netball following serious injuries but the 27-year-old might only have one World Cup campaign left.

Four test cap Silver Fern Elle Temu is out of the picture this year after moving to Australia to join her partner. But the 25-year-old is continuing her career as a training partner for the New South Wales Swifts.

With the current crop of Silver Ferns defenders getting on, New Zealand selectors have been faced with a potential shortage in that area of the court.

But they will be pleased with what they saw after round one of the domestic competition, knowing they might have to expose some players to international netball sooner, rather than later.

Mystics circle defender Carys Stythe is in her second year as a fully contracted player and will get a lot of court time this season, following the retirement of Sulu Fitzpatrick.

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND - Parris Mason of the Queens Tauihi Basketball Final Tokomanawa Queens v Northern Kahu Trafalgar Centre ,Nelson. New Zealand. Saturday 27 August 2022. (Photo by Evan Barnes/Shuttersport Limited)

Parris Mason also plays basketball. Photo: Evan Barnes

The Silver Ferns development squad member has benefited from learning from the experience of players like Fitzpatrick and senior Mystics defender Phoenix Karaka.

The stealth-like defender has an ability to get clean intercepts and that's what the Silver Ferns need more of.

The Mystics' other 20-year-old circle defender Catherine Hall, has been given her first full contract, and started Saturday's game against the Magic, which the Mystics won 64-52.

The long-limbed defender has an uncanny ability to get the most unlikely of deflections.

Stars defender Lili Tokaduadua had a sensational debut, picking up the MVP honours despite her side losing to the Pulse 58-51 on the weekend.

The 19-year-old finished with one intercept and seven deflections at goal keeper, and did not even play a full game.

Saint Kentigern College product Khanyè-Lii Munro-Nanoa, also 19, has been promoted as a full time member of the Stars and made her debut at wing defence on the weekend.

Following the departure of experienced Australian defender Kristiana Manu'a, Pulse defender Parris Mason nearly played a full game on Sunday and should start most games.

Kate Beveridge of the Tactix gets the ball underpressure from Taneisha Fifita of the Steel.

Taneisha Fifita (right) Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 21-year-old has served a decent apprenticeship at the franchise and will be itching to make her mark in the starting seven.

The Silver Ferns development squad member is also a member of the Tall Ferns and Netball New Zealand will be desperate not to lose Mason to basketball.

After a two year hiatus promising Southern Steel defender Taneisha Fifita, 23, is back.

Fifita earned her first full contract in 2020 and spent two years in the Steel line-up before leaving on overseas missionary work.

Fifita was a player susceptible to getting warnings from umpires and copped a two minute suspension in a game in 2021, which was quite rare at the time.

But Fifita last night became the fourth player of the round to be given a two minute suspension in the Steel's 52-35 loss to the Tactix in Christchurch.

Under World Netball's updated rules the threshold for suspending a player is lower, and every athlete across the competition is going to have to come to terms with the new standard.