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Silver Ferns set for a blockbuster international schedule on home soil

 

Media Update

Thursday 9 February, 2017

Fans around the country will be gearing up for a blockbuster international schedule at the end of 2017 with the Silver Ferns to host the Australian Diamonds, England Roses and South Africa’s SPAR Proteas.
 
The Netball Quad Series, which has just been played in the northern hemisphere, will return to New Zealand soil in late August.
 
The Silver Ferns open their campaign against the SPAR Proteas on Australian soil, before facing the England Roses at The Trusts Arena, Auckland, on Wednesday 30 August. The Series will then head to ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill, for a blockbuster doubleheader on Sunday 3 September featuring the Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds, plus the England Roses and SPAR Proteas.
 
World number three, England, will then remain in New Zealand to contest the Taini Jamison Trophy in September. The three-Test Series will see the Silver Ferns host them at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua (September 7), Pettigrew Green Arena, Napier (September 10) and Claudelands Arena, Hamilton (September 13).
 
The international season reaches its climax in October when Netball’s greatest rivalry returns for the Constellation Cup. The four-Test Series against the Australian Diamonds will start at Vector Arena (October 8) and Horncastle Arena, Christchurch (October 8), before crossing the Tasman for the final two Tests in Australia.
 
Silver Ferns international calendar – end of 2017
 
NETBALL QUAD SERIES


Silver Ferns v South Africa’s SPAR Proteas
Date: TBC
Venue: TBC, Australia*
 
Silver Ferns v England Roses
Date: Wednesday 30 August
Venue: The Trusts Arena, Auckland
 
Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds
Date: Sunday 3 September
Venue: ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill
 
TAINI JAMISON TROPHY


Silver Ferns v England Roses
Date: Thursday 7 September
Venue: Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua
 
Silver Ferns v England Roses
Date: Sunday 10 September
Venue: Pettigrew Green Arena, Napier
 
Silver Ferns v England Roses
Date: Wednesday 13 September
Venue: Claudelands Arena, Hamilton
 
CONSTELLATION CUP


Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds
Date: Thursday 5 October
Venue: Vector Arena, Auckland
 
Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds
Date: Sunday 8 October
Venue: Horncastle Arena, Christchurch
 
Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds
Date: TBC
Venue: TBC, Australia*
 
Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds
Date: TBC
Venue: TBC, Australia*
 
*Netball Australia will confirm dates and venues for matches held in Australia at a later date.
 


For further information and interview requests, please contact:
Kerry Manders
NNZ Head of Communications and Marketing
kerrym@netballnz.co.nz
+64 21 410 970

The Silver Ferns defensive pairing of Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka is looking forward to reuniting at the Central Pulse for next year’s inaugural ANZ Netball Elite League.


The popular Grant, who was recently elevated to the Silver Ferns captaincy, has been a regular with the Pulse since 2010 while Karaka made the move to the Capital this year after three seasons with the Southern Steel.
Offering complimentary skill sets, the defensive divas were key signings for the Pulse as the pair looks to build on the dynamic potential which wasn’t fully realised during 2016.

With over 100 ANZ Championship matches under her belt and 81 test caps, the experienced Grant, 29, has built an impressive resume while the athletic Karaka, 22, has all the hallmarks of continuing her development into a quality all-round defender.

``In the end it was an easy decision to stay with the Pulse,’’ Grant said. ``I’ve spent a large chunk of my career here now and I’m excited by the concept of the new league, building a great team environment and getting another opportunity to create a strong defensive partnership with Phoenix.

``We didn’t reach our best this year but I’m excited about our potential as a combination and am looking forward to growing that.’’

Athletic, mobile and strong in the air, the pair can interchange the in-circle defensive positions seamlessly, Karaka also swayed by the opportunity to play alongside Grant again while reacquainting with new coach Yvette McCausland-Durie.
``I really want to develop that connection with Katrina that I know we have but that just wasn't consistent enough this season,’’ Karaka said.

``Also having Yvette as a coach at New Zealand A level a few years back was a very memorable experience for me and I really enjoyed learning from her, so I’m looking forward to teaming up with her again.’’

Off the court, Karaka, from Auckland, also became an enthusiastic admirer of life in Wellington.

``I loved living in Wellington amongst its diverse community this season,’’ she said. ``You won’t see or experience it anywhere else and it's refreshing to be a part of.’’

McCausland-Durie couldn’t be happier after securing the classy defensive package, having no doubts of the potency of both as individuals and as a combination.

``They are high calibre players and I’m delighted to have retained the pair of them for next season,’’ she said.

``They are both dynamic in their athletic ability. Katrina has built a formidable career and developed strong leadership qualities through her experience while Phoenix is continuing to build on her impressive repertoire.

``There’s no doubt they can be developed into a forceful unit and I can’t wait to start working with them.’’

The Pulse now has eight confirmed signings for 2017: Sheridan Bignall, Karin Burger, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Katrina Grant, Phoenix Karaka, Claire Kersten, Whitney Souness, Cathrine Tuivaiti.

Experienced shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti is hoping a change of scenery and personnel will reignite her career when she lines up for the Central Pulse in next year’s new ANZ Netball Elite League.

 

A foundation member of the Northern Mystics where she spent the entire nine years of the ANZ Championship, Tuivaiti has thrown caution to the wind, the new competition providing the perfect motivation to test herself in a fresh environment.

``I know that it’s something I need to do to better myself and my netball,’’ she said. ``I am excited by it all but that is also measured with a sprinkling of nervousness.

``The time had just come where I needed to branch out and do something different with some different people. I’m hoping to learn some new things about netball and hopefully about myself, and I feel that here (the Pulse) is the place to do it.’’

The multi-skilled Tuivaiti, 29, grew up in the Far North before being lured to Auckland as a 14-year-old where she has been showcasing her netballing talents ever since.

During those years, Tuivaiti has gone on to forge a formidable shooting partnership at domestic and international level with Maria Tutaia but is excited by the prospect of teaming up with talented Pulse shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio (nee Wells) and building another equally forceful pairing.

``I’m really excited about the new challenge of not only playing netball in a different area of New Zealand and rekindling the passion, but also learning about myself away from family and friends,’’ she said.

With the pair recently married, Tuivaiti’s husband Jim has just returned to Italy where he will start his second season of professional rugby with the Calvisano club.

``It is a bit tough as we are newly-weds and it’s hard being apart but we knew what we were getting ourselves into,’’ she said. ``We don’t want to give up our respective codes just yet as we both believe we’ve still got more in the tank.’’

That’s a sentiment echoed by coach Yvette McCausland-Durie who is delighted to welcome the experience and ability Tuivaiti will provide the Pulse’s attack end.

``Cathrine has one of the best accuracy rates in the business and a defining skill set which will prove invaluable,’’ she said.

``She has an abundant natural talent which can only be enhanced and built on while her experience and leadership abilities will be great assets for our younger players to learn from.’’

Tuivaiti joins Sheridan Bignall, Karin Burger, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness as confirmed signings for the 2017 edition of the Pulse.

The experience provided by stylish Silver Ferns shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio (nee Wells) will be a key component for the Central Pulse in next year’s ANZ Netball Elite League.

 

Recently married, Ekenasio relocated from Australia to Wellington in 2014, playing for the Pulse in 2015-16 and having no hesitation in signing up again for the first edition of the new-look New Zealand-based league next season.

``Wellington is home now and the Pulse were always my team of choice for next year,’’ she said. ``I’m looking forward to helping build a new and exciting era for the team.’’

Ekenasio will be joined at the Pulse in 2017 by promising midcourters Whitney Souness, Claire Kersten and Sheridan Bignall along with defender Karin Burger, the quartet having strong links with Netball Central.

After first making the Pulse team in 2015, Souness, 20, missed the entire 2016 season with a serious knee injury and was replaced by the hard-working and reliable Kersten, who had previous experience with the Pulse in the now defunct trans-Tasman competition. Bignall and Burger will make the step up to the elite level after delivering consistently strong performances in this year’s inaugural Beko League where the pair helped Netball Central to a second place finish.

``Ameliaranne has huge leadership potential and getting an experienced shooter of Silver Ferns calibre is massive for us,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

``While she is a senior player, there is lots of scope for her to continue to develop and grow her game from a playing point of view as well as a leader. There’s not many specialist goal attacks around at the moment, so it will be a huge asset to have her ability and experience. It’s a significant feature looking ahead that she has recommitted to the Pulse.’’

Predominantly an in-circle defender, Wellington’s Burger was a constant standout throughout the Beko League, leaving a strong enough impression with the national selectors to warrant a call-up for this week’s Silver Ferns trial.

``That’s huge for somebody from the Beko League to achieve so quickly and she now has the opportunity to continue her growth and development across all three defensive positions at the highest level,’’ McCausland-Durie said.

Captain of the Central Beko League team where she shone with her consistently high standards from centre, Manawatu’s Bignall is a former New Zealand under-21 player.

``Part of what we’re looking at is our sustainability and building for the years ahead,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``That means recognising the pathways we have at Netball Central and that players can achieve higher honours by performing consistently well at Beko League level.’’

After several years in the national development squad, Souness, predominantly a wing attack, has long been earmarked as a bright prospect.

``Her return to court is now eagerly awaited,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``She has done all the hard work with her rehabilitation and left no stone unturned. She is a dynamic player and I’m looking forward to her making a big impact across the coming season.

``I’m really happy with these five signings. They are good people and good people make for good players and that’s critical in our forward building. I’m really excited about the whole season…..there’s a new competition, a new year, new opportunities and I have absolute faith in the potential of this group and their contribution to our fortunes in the future.’’
 

With the focus set on a new era, Yvette McCausland-Durie has been appointed Central Pulse coach for next year’s revamped elite domestic netball competition.

McCausland-Durie recently guided a young Netball Central team to the runners-up spot in this year’s inaugural Beko League, a development competition specifically introduced to provide a level of competition that sits immediately below the ANZ Championship. She was also appointed Silver Ferns assistant coach earlier this year.

"With New Zealand and Australia going their separate ways next year and the establishment of the New Zealand Elite Domestic League, we could not ignore the success Yvette had with the Central Beko team when selecting a coach for next year’s inaugural season and believe she is the right person for the job,’’ Netball Central CEO Carolyn Young said.

With that in mind, Netball Central is looking to align the Pulse and Beko teams more closely. In a bid to strengthen the overall coaching programme, a Director of Performance will be appointed within the next fortnight to oversee both teams.
With player contract negotiations set to begin for next year’s new league, Netball Central was keen to finalise the coaching position as quickly as possible.

McCausland-Durie’s appointment means Tanya Dearns was not reappointed after coaching the Pulse in the final year of the ANZ Championship this season. "It is the perfect opportunity to reset our sights and introduce a new era for the team with a fresh approach. We would like to thank Tanya for her contribution this year and wish her well for the future,’’ Young said.

"We have just come through a very tough campaign. Tanya and the team had their fair share of bad luck, particularly with more than one career-ending injury. With the new competition having different challenges, the Board felt the experience of Yvette in the head coach role was the best option to help set the platform for the team heading into a new and exciting era.’’
Dearns was disappointed the decision had been made not to reappoint her for another year.

“I would have liked to coach the team for another year but I accept the Board’s decision that they want to take the team in a different direction and I wish them all the best for the next season,” she said.

McCausland-Durie has over 10 years high performance coaching experience as part of the Netball New Zealand High Performance Coach Pathway, is a graduate of the High Performance Sports New Zealand (HPSNZ) Coach Accelerator Programme, and guided the New Zealand U21 team to a silver medal at the Netball World Youth Cup 2009.
She also coached the Pulse in the ANZ Championship between 2009-11.
"This is an honour and I’m delighted to be back with the Pulse,’’ McCausland-Durie said. "This is where it all began for me at a high performance level and I know I’ve come a long way since then.

"I’m passionate about netball and high performance sport. With this new domestic competition, it is an exciting time to be involved and I am looking forward to starting a new era with the Pulse.’’

The New Zealand Elite Domestic League, comprising six teams and a three-round format, will be launched in April, with an international component, of which the details are yet to be finalised, added at the end.