Silver Ferns v England: Star shooter Maia Wilson relieved, refreshed to take court after ANZ Premiership wobbles

Silver Ferns shooter Maia Wilson will try to put a rollercoaster season behind her, as she prepares to face England Roses in a three-match series at Christchurch next week.

With the retirement of Maria Folau and pregnancy absence of captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Wilson, 23, looms as the senior pro in the NZ attacking circle against the reigning Commonwealth Games champions, but must put a trying couple of months behind her to fulfill that role.

As her Northern Stars burst out of the starting blocks for this year's ANZ Premiership, she was in fine form, but that hot streak fell away badly mid-season, as her team slumped out of playoff contention.

On social media, Wilson admitted she had struggled with mental health, specifically body-image issues that - at their worst - saw her weighing in six times a day. That admission seemed to trigger her form slump, but back in the Ferns camp, she insists the recent COVID-19 lockdown has given her a chance to recharge.

"I feel relieved," she says. "The forced lockdown was nice to be with family and have some time apart.

"I'm a person who enjoys my own company, so it was quite nice to get outside and train, and not have to worry about anything else, but I'm really itching to get back into it.

"I'm a slow starter, but I know I'm going to get there and not trying to put any expectations or standards on myself, just knowing however I turn up, it's the best I can be in that moment. If I miss a shot, I miss a shot, but it's what I do next."

Although she's based in Auckland, Wilson was in Wellington, when the latest lockdown was introduced, which meant she wasn't trapped at Alert Level 4 like some of her teammates.

"My bubble was the size of five, so I had many passers - unsure of the quality of those passers, but really nice to have family to keep me motivated.

"Having that support at home was everything I needed. I was lucky to have a post outside, but windy Welly wasn't that great to shoot in and I'm very grateful to shoot indoors."

Wilson is wary of the challenge presented by England, as the reigning world champions try to capitalise on the only international fixtures on their schedule, after the postponement of next month's Constellation Cup series against Australia.

"They hit us really hard last year and even though we won that series, you can't take them lightly and they have bolstered their side with a few more experienced players. 

"During lockdown, we were having meetings and analysis, so we need to be quite sussed on what they're doing, but also focusing on us."  

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