Silver Ferns: Maddy Gordon selected by Dame Noeline Taurua in 2020/21 squad

Dame Noeline Taurua has selected a 16-strong Silver Ferns squad and a ten-player Development squad for 2020/21 season, with “speechless” Maddy Gordon being the only debutante in the main squad.

Gordon, who has just won the ANZ Premiership with Central Pulse, has enjoyed a breakthrough season and her exceptional performances at WA were a key part of their title-winning campaign.

“It’s obviously been a dream of mine, but this is unreal and I’m pretty much speechless,” Gordon said of her selection. “This has definitely come a lot quicker than I ever expected.”

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Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who had her first captaincy experience at any level during the Vitality Nations Cup in January, will continue to perform that role for the squad.

She will be supported by vice captains Gina Crampton and Jane Watson, who was recently named as the ANZ Premiership Player of the Year.

Phoenix Karaka is not included as she has just announced her pregnancy and as a collective, the Silver Ferns are now moving into a new era as a number of their stalwarts.

Maria Folau, Casey Kopua and Laura Langman, part of the group nicknamed ‘The Fossils’ at last year’s Netball World Cup, have all called time on their international careers and take 425 caps of experience away with them.

“When you look at the Test caps that have left us in those three players [Langman, Folau and Kopua], it’s definitely going to take a while and most of our players aren’t up to that length of experience or time that they’ve had in the game,” Taurua noted on the Silver Ferns’ website.

“But in saying that, the likes of Ameliaranne, Gina and Jane, I feel, are starting to be standouts at a domestic level in their respective clubs.

“From what I’ve seen over the last couple of [international] series, for example, the Nations Cup, they were standouts in that as well, and now the mantle has been passed on.”

Since the restart of the ANZ Premiership season back in June, Taurua has been supporting all of the competition’s head coaches and this has enabled her to have a detailed look at all players. The head coach has been excited by what she’s seen.

“This has been one of the toughest seasons for the athletes in what has been a disrupted ANZ Premiership, but I have been impressed with how the teams have risen to the challenge and what they have produced on court,” Taurua said.

“Now is the time to continue developing our athletes at the highest level and building on our game which is exciting.

“We have the core of our Netball World Cup winning squad which brings that experience to the side while the likes of Claire, Sulu and Kelly have experience at that level and bring a fresh dynamic to the squad.”

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Dynamic defenders Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere are included in the ten-player development squad, alongside the hard-working Samantha Winders and teenage shooting talent, Grace Nweke.

Taurua is keen for both squads to work closely together and they will begin training camps in October.

“The calibre of this [development] squad I think really shows how well the future of our game is placed, which is why we want these athletes to work closely with the Silver Ferns Squad to help grow our depth at the elite level.”

At the end of May, it was announced that the scheduled Quad Series between New Zealand, England, South Africa and Australia was cancelled, but that the Constellation Cup would remain in the diary.

Now, with continuing impact of COVID-19 in both New Zealand and Australia, a question mark hangs over the competition and as a result, the Silver Ferns’ fixture schedule for 2020 remains uncertain.

“We just have to wait and see [if we’ll get to play] but a really good thing that has become ingrained in our Silver Ferns culture is that we have to use our own team-mates, our own squad, as a marker for ourselves,” captain Ekenasio said.

“Only when we use that really well in training, and train really hard against each, do we know we’re getting the best out of each other and reaching our full potential.

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