Netball: Ameliaranne Ekenasio to captain Silver Ferns in Nations Cup

Shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio will lead the team in the absence of the 'Fossils'.
Shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio will lead the team in the absence of the 'Fossils'. Photo credit: Photosport

Silver Ferns shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio will lead New Zealand in the upcoming Nations Cup in England, as part of a new leadership group. 

Ekenasio steps in for Laura Langman, who will sit out the four-team tournament, after a heavy workload over the past year. 

This tour is the start of a new era for the Ferns, as they're without the self-titled 'Fossils' group of Langman and defender Katrina Rore, also taking a break, and shooter Maria Folau and defender Casey Kopua, who have both retired since last year's World Cup triumph. 

Players, team management, Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie and high performance head Keir Hansen all voted for their prefered choice of captain, and Ekenasio was given the nod after a strong 2019 campaign. 

Defender Jane Watson and midcourt Gina Crampton will serve as vice-captains. 

Born in Queensland, Ekenasio, 29, was part of New Zealand's World Cup-winning squad and was named Silver Ferns Player of the Year at the NZ Netball Awards.

Gina Crampton and Jane Watson will serve as vice-captains.
Gina Crampton and Jane Watson will serve as vice-captains. Photo credit: Photosport

Coach Dame Noeline Taurua said Ekenasio's oncourt performances, growing confidence as a world-class athlete, leadership qualities and genuine care for others made her a contender for the captaincy.

"I was very pleased that the process highlighted many players in the group that are leaders in different areas and this is important, with both Laura and Katrina taking their sabbatical breaks," she said. 

"We have all watched Ameliaranne take her game to a new level last year, showing a maturity in her game, consistency in performance, and ability to shoulder the pressures on and off court.

"On top of that, she is such a lovely person, who genuinely wants the best for others and ultimately for the team to be the best.

"As a result of our process, she has the respect of her peers and management. Respect and trust is crucial in leadership, as we continue to pursue to live and breathe the values of the Silver Fern."

Taurua said Watson and Crampton brought plenty of experience to the group, and along with Ekenasio, provided leadership in all areas of the court.

"Both Jane and Gina are captains within their ANZ Premiership teams, and have complimentary skills that will provide support for Ameliaranne," she said.

"It was important to find that right mix in looking ahead to the future, but also naming a leadership group that led by example, on and off court, for now. 

"Our current Silver Ferns environment needs to keep growing and adapting to the personnel we have in the mix. We have strong structures in place. 

"Changes are always good and healthy to ensure we don’t become stagnant."

The Silver Ferns open their Nations Cup campaign on Monday (NZ time) against England, before meeting Jamaica and South Africa.  

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