Netball World Cup 2019: Shooter Bailey Mes comes out swinging for Silver Ferns

She's been labelled New Zealand netball's "punching bag", but Bailey Mes could be the one doing the punching at this World Cup.

Some regard Mes as a shock selection in Noeline Taurua's 12-strong squad, but the Ferns coach has big things planned for the Mystics shooter.

Her journey thus far has been a rollercoaster ride.

In 2012, she was a surprise call-up to the Silver Ferns, after playing only one quarter in the ANZ Championship. Since then, she has endured a serious knee injury, a World Cup final loss and a Commonwealth Games campaign to forget, while celebrating two 'Fast Five' titles and 63 tests,.

Plenty has happened in seven years.

Mes has been in and out of the Silver Ferns, and hasn't played since Taurua took over the programme last August. The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was the scene of her last international cap.

But that's set to change this week.

Mes will play her first test in more than a year and the first under Taurua in Liverpool. 

Her time away - indeed, her entire career - has been a test of resilience, but she feels better for it, heading into this campaign.

"I'm just going into this World Cup and everything that I've learnt, that has been thrown at me over the years, will help I think" Mes told Newshub.

"It's probably just learning about yourself and how you react to situations, and how you pick yourself up when you do have those setbacks.

"At the moment, it's just about putting whatever I can out on court and trying to be a little bit better every time."

That can be easier said than done, especially when you live your life in the public spotlight and your every move scrutinised.

Mes used to get abusive messages on social media and while that's subsided lately, the 30-year-old said she'd learnt to deal with it better, as she becomes sure of herself and who she is as a player.

Bailey Mes in action for the Silver Ferns against NZ Men
Bailey Mes in action for the Silver Ferns against NZ Men. Photo credit: Photosport

"Don't engage" is how Mes combats the private messages.

"Don't look at anything and just talk to the people I know will support me.

"I mean, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I don't look at half the messages, which is sad, because some of them are really nice and supportive.

"But it's really interesting the people that want to give their five cents worth."

The heat she receives doesn't go unnoticed in netballing circles.

"I often feel she is New Zealand's punching bag when it comes to netball and she does take a lot of heat I guess" Mystics teammate Michaela Sokolich-Beatson told Newshub.

The midcourter talked about Mes' mental fortitude and how she was able to find her way out of an ANZ Premiership slump this season, ultimately regaining form and returning to Silver Ferns contention.

"She was like, 'There is nothing you can do, I have to do it for myself', and from that conversation, I saw her lift.

"Then she was getting in that goal circle, turning and shooting from anywhere, and I was like, 'She's back'."

That mind-set has impressed Taurua.

"I love Bailey, because she's still presenting herself and still wanting to play netball," Taurua told Newshub.

"She has been at the bottom of the heap. She is tenacious and keeps coming back, and I love that mental attitude about her."

Taurua also loves her athleticism.

Taurua was assistant coach, when Mes was called into the national side by Waimarama Taumaunu. Her physical abilities stood out back then and that hasn't changed, especially with Taurua applying tough fitness standards to her World Cup squad.

While Mes still sees that side of her game as her point of difference, she's developed other things on the court as well.

"I've got more experience now, I can go between that holding game and moving game.

"It's been good, playing goal attack more over the past few years, because it's changed up the way I play goal shoot."

Mes hopes this World Cup can be the tournament where she really stamps her mark on the side and Taurua has high hopes for her as well.

"She could be our main person that's going to pull the game for us."

Newshub.

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