Tau­rua lim­its UK se­ries aims

Two out of three wins in Quad Se­ries will suf­fice for Sil­ver Ferns coach as she strives to re­pair bat­tered brand

Rotorua Daily Post - - Sport -

TNETBALL

he mere fact Noe­line Tau­rua is pre­pared to be sat­is­fied with two wins from three matches in the North­ern Quad Se­ries il­lus­trates the na­ture of her re­build job.

Not so long ago the Sil­ver Ferns would walk into a se­ries such as this — the three-test ex­am­i­na­tion against hosts Eng­land, Aus­tralia and South Africa in Liver­pool and Lon­don over the next week — with the be­lief, if not ex­pec­ta­tion, they would emerge vic­to­ri­ous.

In­stead, after a year in which the Ferns won eight of 21 tests and fell to one of their low­est ebbs, ex­pec­ta­tions have swiftly been re­de­fined.

Two wins from seven un­der Tau­rua is hardly a glow­ing start but it also re­flects the shat­tered group she in­her­ited.

The Net­ball World Cup, six months away in Liver­pool, is the ul­ti­mate aim; where judg­ment will be passed on whether Tau­rua de­liv­ers on her longheld prom­ise or not.

She knows this. Be­tween now and then, Tau­rua con­tin­ues the task of restor­ing pride to the black dress.

Watch­ing the Ferns ca­pit­u­late at last year’s Com­mon­wealth Games, where they failed to win a medal for the first time, Tau­rua thought she knew what needed to change.

In­volved as a player and as­sis­tant coach pre­vi­ously, she had clear com­par­isons. Yet it was only after as­sum­ing the reins that the true depth of the prob­lems fac­ing New Zealand net­ball were re­vealed.

“Not un­til you get in there do you know the re­al­ity,” Tau­rua, the suc­cess­ful Magic and Sun­shine Coast Light­ning men­tor,said after her 12-strong squad touched down in Eng­land.

“We have to pri­ori­tise the ar­eas we have to work on in­stead of try­ing to save the world. This tour is re­ally im­por­tant for us. I’ve had dif­fer­ent per­son­nel over the last three se­ries and I’ve got a bet­ter han­dle on all those play­ers who will be avail­able for the Worlds.

“This tour is about us putting some wins on the board and putting out a game that’s as dom­i­nant as we can. That’s go­ing to be a big mea­sure as to what 2019 is go­ing to be for us.”

This Quad Se­ries may pro­vide the yard­stick but there is lit­tle time to make any ad­vances.

Once the Ferns re­turn home, they have only the do­mes­tic sea­son and three Taini Jami­son tests — against yet-to-be-con­firmed op­po­si­tion — be­fore the World Cup. And vast im­prove­ments need to be seen now.

“When you put num­bers out there, you put your­self on the line but if we can come out with two out of three wins here I will be re­ally happy. But if we put out a level of dom­i­nance and learn from what we ex­pe­ri­enced in the Quad and Con­stel­la­tion Cup of last year — and we’re very clear about what those les­sons are within the team — and we show im­prove­ment, I will be happy as well.

“We have to put some­thing out there that shows we’re in con­tention for Worlds, not only for the op­po­si­tion but more for our­selves in re­gards to our own con­fi­dence and know­ing we are pro­gress­ing.

“I’ve put out there within the team, two out of three. Ob­vi­ously there’s a ques­tion, why not three out of three? We haven’t beaten Eng­land since I’ve been around, we’ve only beaten Aus­tralia once, so we need to get one of those scalps to meet that ob­jec­tive and we need to be able to put our­selves un­der pres­sure.”

Tau­rua shoots from the hip and isn’t afraid to make tough de­ci­sions as she seeks to raise stan­dards and cre­ate in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion.

She widened the net in De­cem­ber to stage old school tri­als where rep­u­ta­tions counted for lit­tle.

Vet­eran de­fender Ka­t­rina Rore, who fronted the emo­tion­al­lydrain­ing Games cam­paign, was the ma­jor ca­su­alty for this se­ries but after poor shoot­ing per­for­mances, eye­brows were also raised with only Maria Fo­lau, Maia Wil­son and Ameliaranne Eke­na­sio in­cluded in this squad.

“Those three shoot­ers were able to con­sis­tently do their job and have high per­cent­ages. The chal­lenge now is whether they can do that in real time and we will find that out. We went with three be­cause they were the only three that were able to do their job. I wasn’t pre­pared to take peo­ple who couldn’t shoot and per­cent­ages were low, hence the three shoot­ers.

“Ka­t­rina is def­i­nitely still an op­tion for us and ANZ for her will be a good op­por­tu­nity to see what she looks like when she goes back into Pulse.”

The trial Tau­rua de­scribes as phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally tax­ing saw bolters emerge.

One fewer shooter opened up the mid­court where 21-year-old Tac­tix rookie Kimiora Poi forced her way in. Ditto de­fend­ers Karin Burger and Erena Mikaere, the lat­ter also set to de­but.

Over­all the squad con­tains a blend of ex­pe­ri­ence in Fo­lau, Casey Kopua and Laura Lang­man, and raw tal­ent.

Ex­pect to see an ag­gres­sive, ex­pan­sive, free-flow­ing style with the onus put on the five fast, fit mid­courters to make the most of turnovers and take the ball to their shoot­ers at speed.

“Ev­ery­one will get that op­por­tu­nity — it’s up to them whether they can take it.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing those de­buts. It’s al­ways a good thing. When I look at the make-up of our team we’ve got some of the older play­ers who can pro­vide that sta­bil­ity and are wily but we’ve also got the younger ones who can be around for four, five, six years so it’s an op­por­tune time for some of these play­ers to be in­volved in the tour now.”

In many re­spects Tau­rua is driv­ing a more ruth­less cul­ture. That starts with se­lec­tion. From day one mes­sag­ing has been clear — take chances or you won’t make the cut.

“Once we fin­ish this Quad se­ries ev­ery­one goes back into the pool and they have to per­form back in the ANZ Premier­ship.

“The ones who will be there will be the ones who stand up.”

Photo / Pho­to­sport

Liam Napier Coach Noe­line Tau­rua has set mod­est goals as she leads the Sil­ver Ferns into a Quad Se­ries against Eng­land, Aus­tralia and South Africa in Bri­tain, start­ing to­day.

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