Ferns to focus on fitness
Noeline Taurua has imposed strength and conditioning targets on the Silver Ferns and won’t pick players who don’t come up to scratch.
A group of 25 players gather in Auckland on Monday for a weeklong Silver Ferns training camp with a 12-strong squad named on Friday for January’s Northern Quad Series in England.
The fitness levels of several Ferns and their inability to stand up to the physicality of the Australian and English defenders was a major concern during September’s Quad Series and October’s Constellation Cup – new head coach Taurua’s first assignments in charge.
‘‘December is the first time targets have been put in, in regards to selection and [players] have to meet a certain target in the fitness area,’’ Taurua told Stuff.
‘‘We have to raise the standards of what is currently accepted in the past and this is a starting point.
‘‘The [required] numbers aren’t that high if I’m being honest about that, but it’s a starting point. It sets the tone or the expectation of what’s required to be a Silver Fern.’’
Fitness requirements on Silver Ferns isn’t a novel approach, but again underlines Taurua’s early influence on the team and her takeno-prisoners attitude.
Conditioning has been a regular issue with the Silver Ferns and Taurua said the matches against Australia highlighted the gulf in fitness levels between the teams. New Zealand desperately needed to improve their results across the board, so they could push through and avoid making silly errors when they were tiring.
‘‘That’s been an area that has been identified for what seems like quite a few reviews. It seems to be a consistent sort of message that has come up.’’
Taurua realised they wouldn’t produce instant miracles with fitness, but said there needed to be steady improvement and greater accountability from players.