Grant on Ferns flop: We must stay to­gether

Four-nil is not how we want our sea­son to fin­ish up.

The New Zealand Herald - - SPORT - Dana Jo­hannsen

The Sil­ver Ferns are self­de­struc­t­ing on the court, but skip­per Ka­t­rina Grant is de­ter­mined to en­sure her side won’t im­plode off it as the pres­sure mounts fol­low­ing another dis­mal Con­stel­la­tion Cup per­for­mance.

Ques­tions are be­ing asked of the cul­ture in the New Zealand camp af­ter they slumped to a 55-43 loss to a rookie Di­a­monds line-up in the third net­ball test in Ade­laide on Wed­nes­day night.

The re­sult saw Aus­tralia take a 3-0 lead in the four-test se­ries, wrap­ping up the Con­stel­la­tion Cup for the fifth straight year.

With the score­lines across the se­ries grow­ing from four goals in last week’s opener in Auck­land, to eight in Christchurch, to 12 in the third test, the gap be­tween the two sides ap­pears to be widen­ing with ev­ery out­ing.

The Ferns now head into this week­end’s fi­nal test in Syd­ney star­ing down the bar­rel of a se­ries white­wash for just the sec­ond time in the eights sea­sons the Con­stel­la­tion Cup has been in play.

Grant said Wed­nes­day’s “de­mor­al­is­ing” per­for­mance in Ade­laide needs to prompt some tough con­ver­sa­tions and soul-search­ing in the team, but what the team can’t al­low to hap­pen is the self-de­struc­tive blame game to set in.

“We know we need to stay

“As a team, you have to take the good to­gether and you have to take the bad to­gether and that’s what we’re do­ing now — it’s the only way to learn.”

Af­ter a se­ries as woe­ful as this Con­stel­la­tion Cup has been for the New Zealand side, there is a dan­ger that in the lead-up to to­mor­row’s fi­nal test in Syd­ney, the Ferns men­tally con­sign their sea­son to the bin and fo­cus on start­ing afresh in 2018.

Grant said with the Com­mon­wealth Games less than six months away, it is cru­cial her side start putting things right to­mor­row.

“Ab­so­lutely [ our fight­back] has to start now. Four-nil is not how we want our sea­son to fin­ish up. We have a lot of pride in the black dress — I know peo­ple will be ques­tion­ing that now — but we take it se­ri­ously and we are des­per­ate to do ev­ery­thing we can this week­end,” she said.

“The big­ger picture of April is go­ing to be a lot tougher if we don’t sort it out now.”

Not only is a strong per­for­mance in Syd­ney im­por­tant in the con­text of restor­ing con­fid- ence to the young New Zealand side, the pres­sure is also on in­di­vid­u­als to step up and de­liver to en­sure they re­main in the se­lec­tors’ plans.

With play­ers such as Grace Ras­mussen, Claire Kersten and a now-fit Michaela SokolichBeat­son wait­ing in the wings, another ca­pit­u­la­tion this week­end could put spots up for grabs in Jan­uary’s Quad Se­ries tour to South Africa.

“Our places in the team are not set in stone and ev­ery sin­gle one of us need to step up if we’re to make that team in April.

“We’re all on trial, and that’s why we all need to step up and show that we’re ac­tu­ally good net­ball play­ers when we work to­gether,” said Grant.

Skip­per Ka­t­rina Grant

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