2022 Quad Series team review: New Zealand
WORLD number twos New Zealand might have gone into the series coming off impressive performances against the other top three nations in recent series, but found the going a lot tougher at the 2022 Quad Series. The Silver Ferns had an inexperienced shooting circle, combined with some star players returning to the international stage.
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
For all the inexperience, New Zealand just had to finish above South Africa. While the Silver Ferns were missing one of the most elite shooters in the world in Ameliaranne Ekenasio, their defensive end depth was ridiculous, and their midcourt experienced. This came to the fore against the sides, and it was more a case of putting enough goals on the board to get it done. They had some solid, without being outstanding performances, and after a blow-out loss against Australia, really took it up to England, and then defeated South Africa. If the series was about testing some of the depth and really honing in on who might take a Commonwealth Games spot, then the Silver Ferns could head home satisfied in that regard.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
They did not really have a “star” throughout the series, rather a solid consistent effort across the board. The first game would have been disappointing, but at the same time, understandable. The inexperienced shooting circle had to gel, and the Silver Ferns were far better against the Roses, and of course, Proteas. If they can get more minutes into the likes of Grace Nweke and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan like they started to in this series, it will hold them in good stead for the future.
Tiana Metuarau really shone in that goal attack position, scoring 43 goals in 53 attempts, whilst also picking up six rebounds, and having 14 deflections and two intercepts. Still only 21-years-old she is one to watch, but the entire team had players step up at different points. Claire Kersten helped drag her side across the line in the third placed final, whilst Phoenix Karaka and Kayla Johnson returned as if they had never left. The team selection for the Commonwealth Games will not be easy for the Silver Ferns, with so much quality in the back three positions.
Metuarau had a tough job as the only dedicated goal attack in the squad, and she took the pressure under her wing and performed strongly. Not only did she put goals on the board, but she set up Maia Wilson and Nweke 44 times. Often teaming up well with Gina Crampton and Kersten down the court, Metuarau showed she could handle the occasion and will be one to watch for the net decade.
New Zealand was able to blood a couple of fresh faces and give more young guns plenty of minutes. The Silver Ferns have enough depth and talent to ensure they will always be competitive. Their defensive depth is superb, their midcourt is hard working, and their shooters are raw, yet talented. Do not sleep on the Silver Ferns for the Commonwealth Games.