Southby makes bold changes
Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby insists the Commonwealth Games selection door remains ajar for unwanted duo Jane Watson and Grace Rasmussen.
Watson and Rasmussen’s omission from the 12-strong squad for next month’s four-match Constellation Cup series against Australia was the major talking point of Friday’s announcement.
Veteran wing attack Rasmussen was overlooked in favour of 21-year-old Central Pulse midcourter Whitney Souness, who debuted against South Africa during last month’s Quad Series. Rasmussen’s future in the black dress looks uncertain and she faces a huge challenge to win back her spot before April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Defender Watson, who was the MVP of the inaugural national premiership, paid the price for a quiet Quad Series, where she struggled to make an impact.
Watson has been overtaken in the goal keep pecking order by her Mainland Tactix team-mate for next season, Temalisi Fakahokotau. After a three year hiatus from international netball, Fakahokotau was highly impressive in the 2-1 Taini Jamison Trophy series win over England and deserved her spot.
Defender Phoenix Karaka, who featured in the Quad Series, but not the Taini Jamison Trophy, and uncapped shooter Monica Falkner, also missed the Constellation Cup squad.
The Silver Ferns selectors were keen to give Fakahokotau a shot against Australia, given Watson and Karaka have both had courttime against the Diamonds in past series. Fakahokotau will back up Kelly Jury at goal keep.
Watson, Rasmussen and Karaka’s omission was purely form-related and Southby said there were no concerns over a lack of fitness.
Southby stressed there would be opportunities for players, who weren’t selected, to put their case forward before the Commonwealth Games.
The Silver Ferns will compete in the Quad Series in South Africa and England in January-early February. A Taini Jamison Trophy home series against a yet to be confirmed Commonwealth opponent is expected to be held in March too.
‘‘There’ll be some very disappointed squad members, but the message to them is it’s not the end of the world and there’s still a lot of series to go and it’s only one series,’’ Southby said.
‘‘The tough part of all of this is, the players that aren’t coming on this series aren’t necessarily doing a lot of things wrong. We’re still looking at lots of different options and we’re still building depth.’’
Souness provides the Silver Ferns with an alternative at centre, a position they are eager to bolster, given Shannon Francois played extensive minutes there in the Quad Series and Taini Jamison Trophy.
Wing defence Samantha Sinclair and Souness will offer cover in the position.