Netball: Silver Ferns will struggle against men, says former NZ coach Yvonne Willering

The Ferns will be up against it, saysd Willering.
The Ferns will be up against it, saysd Willering. Photo credit: Photosport

Former NZ netball coach Yvonne Willering is worried the Silver Ferns risk serious injury in their World Cup build-up game against a men's team.

Netball New Zealand's has improvised to provide the women competitive opposition in preparation for July's world tournament in England.

They'll stage a quadrangular style tournament in late June, featuring the Fiji Pearls, an All-Stars side and - in a world first - a New Zealand men's team.

The men have frequently participated in training games with the Ferns behind closed doors.

But in the context of a televised match situation, Willering's concerned that their enthusiasm and general style of play could significantly increase the risk of untimely injury to one of the Ferns players.

"We've used them in training games and they’ve been great," Willering told Newshub. "But they had constraints put on them.

"They're very aerial, they're unpredictable and my main concern is the injury factor with the Ferns, because it's going to be a tough encounter. While the Ferns need that, it's just a totally different ball game, when you're playing against the guys."

A former Silver Ferns player herself, Willering went on to take the reins of the national side from 1997 to 2002. She was later made an officer of the Order of New Zealand for her services to netball.

Willering coached NZ from 1997 to 2002.
Willering coached NZ from 1997 to 2002. Photo credit: Getty

Willering believes the men will have a point to prove and be looking to take advantage of what will comfortably be their biggest stage yet.

 "They're very serious about their sport as well and they want to showcase what they've got to offer, and rightly so. This is a wonderful opportunity for them.

"You can say to them to just tone it down, but that's a difficult thing to do once you get out on court."

The Ferns will struggle with the men's edge in both strength and height, as well as their more improvisational, less-structured approach to the game, says Willering.

"Defensively, for the Ferns, it will be very hard to read play, just to see where the ball is going to go. They change their mind at the last moment and the ball just flies around.

"It's very hard to play against that."

The matches will take place at Papakura's Pullman Arena between June 26 and 29.


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