Netball: Silver Ferns confident of avoiding England's COVID-19 surge during London Quad Series

As the Silver Ferns prepare to embark overseas for the first time since the start of the pandemic, coach Dame Noeline Taurua assures everything is in place to avert the threat of COVID-19 impacting her side.

On Saturday, the Silver Ferns depart for England, where they'll take part in a London-based Quad Series, facing Australia and South Africa as well as their hosts.

But as England battles COVID-19 and in particular an outbreak of the Omicron variant, the risk of travelling to the UK isn't as straightforward as it once was.

England has recorded over 150,000 cases on Friday (NZ time), on top of a weekly average of more than 147,000.

But for Dame Noeline, the Ferns' management back the steps put in place to avoid the squad and staff becoming infected with COVID-19 once they arrive.

"That's something I'm really confident about, obviously there are things that may come up that may be uncontrollable," she says.

"We've got our high-performance director who will be accompanying us, and taking the off-court logistic things really seriously.

"We've been planning for at least a couple of months now, so there's still things that may come out, but we've got to ensure as a group that we stay within our bubble, that we ensure that we're safe.

"That's huge for us, and that we follow the protocols and [I'm] really confident that what will happen over there, that we can manage that and follow that through and make sure once again that all staff and players are safe."

The Quad Series itself will serve as vital preparation for the Silver Ferns, with the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham at the end of July.

And with several younger, fresh-faced players in the Ferns' ranks, the chance to face opponents like Australia is a challenge needed in the development of the world champions' emerging group.

Dame Noeline Taurua.
Dame Noeline Taurua. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"It's massive for us, I suppose a big stage for us in regards to our overall planning," Dame Noeline adds.

"From this, we'll get an understanding where the opposition are. For a lot of us, we haven't played against Australia, for example, and South Africa for at least nearly a year now. They've got a few changes in their squads, so it'll be good to see them.

"And also, [we're] up against England as well - who I think have had a fantastic series against Jamaica just recently. So overall it's a massive staging for us.

"We'll be able to see what we can and can't do, where our gaps are and set tasks in the ANZ [Premiership] to best prepare for the final selections."

The Quad Series also means the return of the pair of Phoenix Karaka and Kayla Johnson, both back in the international ranks for the first time since becoming mothers.

And with the likes of senior players Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Katrina Rore and Jane Watson among those to miss out, younger players have been given a golden opportunity to stake their places for a Commonwealth Games place.

"I'm really excited by what we have. There's a lovely mix of players who're coming back into the mix - regards to Phoenix and also Kayla. I'm interested to see what they look like back in the international stage.

"We've got a really young shooting end, and Te Aroha Keenan, who's also the New Zealand secondary schools [coach]. She'll be coming with us on tour, she's got a bit of work to do in regards to that shooting end - but that's also her expertise.

"Like always, we've got our midcourt engine room. It's hard to tell, but what they've been doing the last three-four weeks has been quite inspirational in regards of their preparation and training."