The New Zealand Herald

Player rotation the problem: van Dyk

- Christophe­r Reive

The Silver Ferns are in a rut but player pride isn’t the problem.

After Sunday’s loss to Malawi, New Zealand suffered their worstever defeat against England at the Commonweal­th Games yesterday.

The Silver Ferns have been beaten in 10 of their 16 internatio­nals since October, losing to Australia (five times), England (twice), Jamaica (twice) and Malawi. The defeats against Jamaica and Malawi were of particular concern to fans, with player pride coming into question.

However, former Silver Ferns star shooter Irene van Dyk laid that notion to rest, suggesting player rotation was the area of concern.

“It’s not a lack of pride. Our girls do not go out there to lose,” the twotime Commonweal­th Games gold medallist said. “I don’t think at this point in time, the right players play the whole game in the right positions.

“It always takes a few minutes to settle into a game. I think if we just keep the players on for a little longer, it gives them time to settle in, start humming and build connection­s to make things work . . . it will come.”

The defeats against Malawi and England at the Commonweal­th Games were similar, with both teams pulling away in the second half.

Down two points to England at halftime yesterday, goal shoot Bailey Mes and goal attack Maria Folau swapped positions, while wing defence Samantha Sinclair moved to centre in place of Shannon Francois, who shifted to wing attack.

The Silver Ferns were outscored by four goals in the third quarter and England went on to close out a ninegoal win. It was a similar case against Malawi. The Silver Ferns made a host of changes when leading at halftime, only to be outscored 32-21 in the second half.

“The opposition, they analyse our players . . . so as soon as there are changes, they just get to that point where they know if they can score two or three goals, then they have the upper hand, and that’s exactly what the opposition did to us,” van Dyk said. “I still think we have the players. If we keep the right players in the right positions, I think we are world beaters. Honestly, I do think we have the players to make it.”

Since Janine Southby took over as coach in 2016, the Ferns have shown they can be capable of matching it with the best. Since the start of 2016, they have a 20-17 record, with two wins against Australia.

However, with a string of poor recent results, Southby’s future was being questioned. Van Dyk sympathise­d with Southby, and said hers was one of the “loneliest jobs”.

“I don’t know if Janine has a lot of support at the moment; I don’t think she has,” van Dyk said. “The New Zealand public are very brutal when coaches do not perform and, because we’ve set the standard so high in previous years, a little slump like this is going to be detrimenta­l.

“There’s no hiding away from it — it is going to be harsh, it is going to be brutal, but I want to know what support systems have been put around Janine to help her.”

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