Netball: Dame Noeline Taurua spoilt for choice as Silver Ferns undergo Quad Series trials

As the Silver Ferns build towards the defence of their Netball World Cup title in 2023, coach Dame Noeline Taurua has an unenviable task of narrowing down her player pool to just 12.

The national trialists have assembled in Auckland, hoping to impress Dame Noeline and stake their claim for a place in her plans.

Next year looms as a key one for the Silver Ferns. In January, the side will travel to South Africa for the Quad Series, also involving Australia and England, before July's World Cup in the same country.

Wanting to make every second of preparation count in the build-up, Taurua acknowledges how crucial camps like this are.

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

"This series is really critical for us, as we build to Netball World Cup," said Dame Noeline. "[We're] definitely trying to consolidate our combinations, but also, it's another opportunity to play Aussie, England and South Africa over there, so a tester of what would possibly pan out in Netball World Cup.

"It's a really important time, just to cement ourselves and consolidate."

Taurua isn't helped by a conundrum in selection. Rather not enough good players, the Silver Ferns have too many.

After going through the end of 2022 without some of their best, others have taken her chances to make the black dress their own.

In the absence of Gina Crampton, Peta Toeava impressed in midcourt, while defender Kelly Jury made her recall count, as the Ferns claimed Commonwealth Games bronze.

Those areas have given Taurua particular problems, as she looks to narrow down selections.

"As time goes on, it starts to freak me out," she continued. "Defensively, with Jane [Watson] and Karin [Burger] coming back in, it gives us more options in that end, which I think is really good for us moving forward and gives us more variety.

"Midcourt is fierce and I've been saying it for a wee while. There's so many options there and everybody is putting their hands up.

"That's probably the most difficult position or area for selections."

Taurua is grateful for the return of her senior players.

Watson didn't feature at all in 2022, after giving birth, while Burger spent time on the sidelines with a foot injury.

With Crampton taking time off after a demanding year, the Ferns had to replace three of their most experienced players, but their return is telling, as Taurua welcomes back her key players.

"Unfortunately, Jane got COVID a couple of weeks ago, so she was really tracking well, but [I'm] really happy to get her out on court," said Taurua. "She really shows her leadership there.

"Karin's on fire - to be expected - and Gina has slipped right back in. Just having that extra leadership there really helps to cement the group."

The Silver Ferns squad to travel to the Quad Series will be named on Monday.