Constellation Cup: Trans-Tasman series increasingly doubtful, as Silver Ferns consider alternatives

Lifting the Constellation Cup was a long time coming for the Silver Ferns and defending it will now likely be a while away yet.

"As we go on and obviously what's happening in both countries, it's getting slimmer in regards to Constellation Cup happening," admits NZ netball coach Dame Noeline Taurua.

Next month's four-test series is scheduled to be split between the two countries, but COVID-19 quarantine requirements on both sides of the Tasman are conspiring to ruin that and cancelling the series will create a problem for Dame Noeline.

"Next year is a big year, not only for us, but for other countries with Commonwealth Games, so we've got to be smart about what we can do now to fill the gaps," she says. 

As it stands, the Silver Ferns have just the one test series - against England this month - locked in, as long as there's no return to Alert Level 3 or higher. That starts on September 20 at Christchurch.

But there's another issue brewing - four players, including their new captain, are currently stuck in Auckland under Alert Level 4.

"They've applied for exemptions, and we're waiting to see whether they're going to be approved or not," says Dame Noeline. "Time will tell what that looks like for us and what our plans are moving forward."

But time is something they don't have.

"I'm very hopeful, but also, in the scheme of things, I understand that things happen for a reason," says vice-captain Sulu Fiztpatrick. "We're just making sure that we're doing everything we can ourselves to be ready."

Test matches are key to building combinations and Taurua is a realist.

"We are going to be underprepared, no doubt about that," she says. "But on the flipside, it's a great test for us, as it is for England.

"We're grateful for the international matches out there."

As for locking in more before July next year...

"We haven't ruled out anything," says Dame Noeline. "We can always do with more tests, that's the priority."

In these uncertain times, you just don't know when another opportunity will come up.

Join us for live updates of the Silver Ferns v England Roses series from September 20