Silver Ferns announce Taini Jamison squad
NEW Zealand has named its 12-player squad for this month’s Taini Jamison Trophy against Jamaica, headlined by the return of captain, Ameliaranne Ekenasio. The shooter, who missed 18 months of international action and only returned to the ANZ Premiership this season, will don the black dress for the first time since giving birth to her second child.
Ekenasio captained the side before maternity leave, and was left out of the Commonwealth Games squad that won a bronze medal at Birmingham. She has returned to the fold and will regain the captaincy, as voted by the squad, head coach Dame Noeline Taurua, and Netball New Zealand’s chief executive officer and head of high performance.
While Ekenasio is the big name inclusion, she is joined by young gun Maddy Gordon, and fellow midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, the latter of whom is coming off a career-best ANZ Premiership season with the Stars. Circle defender Elle Temu has also been named in the squad, with the 188cm 23-year-old in line to make her debut in the series.
The Taini Jamison Trophy will be awarded to the winner of a best-of-three test series between New Zealand and Commonwealth Games silver medallists, Jamaica. The Silver Ferns and Sunshine Girls will face off in Hamilton on September 17-18 for the first two tests, before the potential trophy decider in Auckland on September 21.
Taurua said she was excited to bring back plenty of talent for the series after going down to the Jamaicans in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth games and looked forward to another huge battle.
“Retaining the core from that campaign allows us to continue refining our strategies as we carry on building towards next year’s Netball World Cup in South Africa,” she said.
“We’re pleased with the progress that has been made but we’ve got a world class opposition in Jamaica coming to our shores and we know that it’s going to take another step up from the Silver Ferns to stay in the fight.
“The next few months are key for the Silver Ferns and our pathway to South Africa – the Constellation Cup against the Australian Diamonds and the FAST5 Netball World Series in November are further opportunities for players to put their hands up and the competition for a spot at the Netball World Cup will just increase.”
Gordon and Reuelu-Buchanan effectively replace Gina Crampton (sabbatical) and Shannon Saunders (pregnancy), while Temu’s performance for New Zealand A at the Cadbury Netball Series prior to the Commonwealth Games, and during the ANZ Premiership, really caught Taurua’s eye.
“Maddy and Mila have also taken their opportunities and will bring that youth and energy back out on court in the black dress,” Taurua said. “They will bring that speed and flair to the Silver Ferns midcourt and I’m excited to see what they can do.
“Elle’s a really mobile defender who has grown in her game over the past two seasons,” Taurua said. “She’s worked hard over the past few months and done what has been asked of her, so it’s really pleasing to see her get this opportunity to take her game to another level.”
Along with the changes, shooters Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit are still in the squad, with Kelly Jury, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka up the other end of the court. The midcourt has had the biggest shakeup since the Commonwealth Games, but both Kate Heffernan and Whitney Souness were retained for the international series.
SILVER FERNS TAINI JAMISON TROPHY SQUAD
Ameliaranne Ekenasio (captain)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit