Netball: Silver Ferns eye crucial offshore build-up to Birmingham Commonwealth Games

The Silver Ferns will head overseas for the first time in two years, as they continue their build-up to next year's Commonwealth Games.

Newshub can reveal Netball NZ is in the process of finalising fixtures in the UK to replace the annual Quad Series, after locking in COVID-19 managed isolation spots for January.

Gold at Birmingham is the goal for the NZ women, after they failed to even medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Games.

And while the pandemic has forced them to get creative in their preparation, with last week's lockdown series against Aotearoa Men, that's about to change.

Netball NZ has confirmed they have MIQ spots ready and waiting.

"We worked through Sport NZ quite some time ago, because it was always part of our Commonwealth Games planning," says Netball NZ high performance manager Keir Hansen.

That planning is now with England Netball, as it prepares to host the Ferns and Australian Diamonds.

"I think Netball England is talking to multiple countries and it's in our best interests, given it will be eight months out," says Hansen. 

Coach Dame Noeline Taurua shares that sentiment.

"If I'm going to be selfish, that tournament is crucial for us, as we lead into the Commonwealth Games, not only for selections, but to get the last look at opposition as well," she says.

The Silver Ferns are cautiously optimistic they'll get one more chance to do that.

"It's probably the last opportunity to get offshore and play, but we're obviously doing some pretty careful planning of what we need to get the team as ready as possible for Birmingham," says Hansen.

So the countdown is well and truly on, and the thought of heading overseas is a welcome one.