New Zealand cop flack after dusty trophy cabinet

WHILE England’s selection decisions for the Taini Jamison Trophy sparked a war of words from Silver Ferns stakeholders, it is now New Zealand that will ponder its next month post-Constellation Cup. After losing the first game to the less experienced Roses, the Silver Ferns bounced back to win the last two and claim the trophy.

However, now the Constellation Cup is fast approaching and legendary coach Dame Noeline Taurua‘s contract coming to an end in November. Rookie Me Central delves deep into the recent saga, as well as the potential issues that have left the Silver Ferns’ trophy cabinet barren of late.

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) recently came under fire in regards to their disbelief over the England Roses squad that was selected to play in the Taini Jamison Trophy in Silver Ferns territory.

The Roses sent over an “understrength” squad that did not include a member of the silver medal winning World Cup side to face the Silver Ferns who failed to win a medal two months ago in Cape Town.

NNZ CEO Jennie Wyllie publicly expressed her disbelief in England Netball’s selection decisions as New Zealand were gearing up to face a full strength England outfit. Only one of New Zealand’s players did not feature in their World Cup campaign, that player being newly capped 19-year-old Amelia Walmsley.

“It’s incredibly disappointing and quite disrespectful for our players and for us as an organisation and a country,” she said.

The inexperienced Roses opened their campaign getting a one-goal win over the Silver Ferns who were given a reality check into not stroking their ego heading into a competitive test series.

It seemed as though only some of the Silver Ferns squad had learnt their lesson from the World Cup, having made the same mistakes, but they ultimately won the Taini Jamison Trophy in a 2-1 series victory on Saturday.

Silver Ferns vice-captain Phoenix Karaka came under fire for comments made in regards to the team sent over to New Zealand.

“Obviously, there’s the initial, ‘Oh, what the hell’s happening? Are they taking the p***?’” she said.

“Especially because, going into the World Cup, we had been very successful against England a couple of times, so that was disappointing to see the team.”

Fans who watch the Netball Super League in England and even Suncorp Super Netball in Australia would be very familiar with several players such as Sasha Glasgow, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Elle McDonald, Hannah Joseph, and Vicki Oyesola to name a few.

The Australian Diamonds are set to be New Zealand’s next challenge as they begin their fight for the Constellation Cup in October across the ditch. If the Silver Ferns drop this series, then all eyes will be on head coach Taurua whose contract comes to an end at the year’s conclusion.

Australian Diamonds celebrate after winning the Constellation Cup series on the Gold Coast. | Image credit: Getty Images

Taurua told Stuff she “would not make any decision on her future until after the Cape Town tournament”. Well, the clock’s ticking and no one knows whether her contract will be renewed when it expires in November.

“It sucks to be where we currently are, but once again the experience these players will get out on court can look nice for us moving forward,” she said.

The Silver Ferns coach’s future will be under a microscope after the Kiwis had their worst performance ever at a Netball World Cup, placing fourth. A confident Taurua entered this campaign with her head held high ready to start the next cycle and prepare her youngsters for the next set of major tournaments.

“This is a good stepping stone, I think for all of us,” she said. “Just get that cobwebs out and re-prioritise what we need to do moving forward.”

Taurua further discussed her thoughts on the situation at hand.

“Originally when … their team was selected and sent out, there was a bit .. around that and obviously talk around the disrespect the team that they are sending over,” she said.

Some speculate that New Zealand won the 2019 World Cup because of the players that came out of retirement to give it one last go as they featured 500-plus test caps, or that the experience outweighed a rookie’s first time on the big stage.

Silver Ferns celebrating after their 52-51, 2019 Netball World Cup win | Image credit: Getty Images

That side featured the likes of Maria Folau, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman, and Katrina Rore. All ended their careers with over 100 caps for their country, featured in three or more World Cups, and will go down as some of the best players in history to play for the Silver Ferns. Those four players also called time on their international careers at the end of 2019.

The Silver Ferns also won the Constellation Cup for the first time in nine years from the Australians in 2021 who were quarantined after crossing over the ditch. Their minimal time together as a team certainly gave the Kiwis an advantage, but they made the most of it and took home the title that eventually went back over to Australia the following year.

NNZ took their chances on young talent such as Kate Burley, Paris Lokotui, Amelia Walmsley and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan who had either their first call up into the senior squad, or saw more court time. But the Silver Ferns entered the series with 416 test caps compared to the Roses’ 50.

All that veteran England Rose Helen Housby had to say on Twitter after the first test match was a smirking emoji. The silence was really loud and her belief in the Roses that competed over in New Zealand was at an all time high.

Several other England players and past coaches such as Eleanor Cardwell, Laura Malcolm, and Jade Clarke expressed their support on social media for the English players chosen in the Taini Jamison Trophy series.

The question now is, what is next year going to look like for NNZ? Will we see a new coach? Or will Dame Noeline Taurua keep her position and hope for the next in the next coming test series?

If New Zealand loses the Constellation Cup to archrivals Australia, the Silver Ferns will be in desperate need of help before the next major tournament where they hope to come out on top.

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