Commonwealth Games: Silver Ferns name squad for Gold Coast

Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is the surprise inclusion in the Silver Ferns 12-strong squad for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Sokolich-Beatson's elevation to the national team comes after a stand-out season for the Northern Mystics. She also captained the victorious New Zealand under-21 team, which won the Netball World Youth Cup crown in Botswana last year.

The defender is the only uncapped player in the squad, which also features Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who last wore the Fern in 2016.

Coach Janine Southby is hopeful Sokolich-Beatson and Ekenasio can deliver on the big stage.

"We are really pleased to be able to name a new cap in the team in Michaela, who has had a very strong Premiership season with the Mystics and her addition to the side means we have cover for both GD and WD," Southby said.

 "Ameliaranne brings another layer of experience to our attacking end and her flair at both GA and GS leaves us with plenty of options up front. 

Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Photo credit: Photosport

"She has performed well for the FAST5 Ferns most recently and is ready to return to the top level.

"We are aware of the challenge awaiting us on the Gold Coast which I know will bring out the best of these players."

The squad also has three players who won silver for New Zealand at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Katrina Grant, Maria Folau and Shannon Francois).

Laura Langman was unavailable for selection due to taking a break from the sport in 2018.

New Zealand has won five Commonwealth Games medals since 1998, including three silver medals and two gold.  They last won gold in Delhi, India in 2010 after defeating Australia.

Silver Ferns squad for Commonwealth Games: Katrina Grant (captain), Maria Folau (vice-captain), Kayla Cullen, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Temalisi Fakahokotau, Shannon Francois, Kelly Jury, Grace Kara, Bailey Mes, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Samantha Sinclair.