The New Zealand Herald

World of woe


From here, the Ferns could go on to claim a hollow bronze but even that would not be cause for high fives. Not when compared with the two gold and three silver medals in this arena previously.

With backs to the wall, the Ferns stand a puncher’s chance of upsetting Australia. It has happened before. But given the sad state of affairs, Kiwi shot put gold medallist Tom Walsh setting the 100m world record is just as likely.

In many respects, the warning sirens have long been sounding around the Ferns. Six wins from their past 16 games speaks to their rapid demise.

Their record nine-goal loss to England yesterday, the first at a major event against the English dating back to 1975, featured improvemen­ts. But when the pressure came on, they crumbled once again. It’s an all-too-consistent theme under coach Janine Southby.

Ferns captain Katrina Grant broke down when fronting questions about whether this team has the required passion but emotion only ever gets you so far.

Basic skills, decision-making at crunch times, cohesion issues from not fielding a settled side, and a lack of depth and developmen­t at the shooting end are crippling the Ferns.

Much of that rests on Southby’s shoulders.

“This is really tough to take,” said Grant, unable to hold back tears. “We shouldn’t have let it get to someone else deciding if we’re going to make the semis but we’ve done this to ourselves and we just have to deal with it.”

Grant and the tenacious Temalisi Fakahokota­u did everything they could to inspire against England, only for many of the 11 intercepts to be squandered.

Maria Folau (30/39) worked overtime dropping long bombs but 73 per cent shooting from the Ferns was never going to be enough. Te Paea Selby-Rickit (12/19) felt the pressure and Bailey Mes’ brief introducti­on did not have the desired impact. Elsewhere, Grace Kara struggled to hit targets in the midcourt.

Perhaps of most concern is the disillusio­ned state they appear to find themselves in.

“It hurts a lot and the challenge is we have to get up again,” Ferns assistant coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

“We’ve got a lot of new players and that’s the challenge. That’s the bit I’m proud of, they keep getting better. I know for some people, it doesn’t feel like enough and we’re right there wanting more from them.”

Now, more than ever, the Ferns need to harness every bit of that confidence.

Credibilit­y depends on it.

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