Netball: ANZ Premiership looms as season-long Silver Ferns trial as players battle for World Cup spots

The 2023 ANZ Premiership season looms as a huge one for the Silver Ferns' hopefuls, with New Zealand's best players needing to use this year's competition as an audition for the Netball World Cup.

Starting at the end of July, the Silver Ferns will travel to South Africa with a huge target on their back, holding the tag of defending champions after their incredible victory over Australia in 2019.

But while the core of Dame Noeline Taurua's squad picks itself, fringe players are now into the last chance saloon to book their tickets to South Africa.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dame Noeline Taurua.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dame Noeline Taurua. Photo credit: Photosport

Unlike past years, there will be no pre-World Cup selection camp to make their final case for selection, leaving form at the ANZ Premiership level as the only indicator for players to prove their worth.

For the players themselves, the pressure of playing for a World Cup spot each week looms as one of the underlying themes across the new season.

"World Cup 2023 in South Africa - that brings a different pressure in the back of your consciousness," Northern Stars shooter Maia Wilson told Newshub.

"For a lot of us, that's obviously what we're trying to aim to. At the moment, we're not going to be having World Cup trials.

"[Selection] is going to be based on our ANZ performances, to be able week in, week out and look how that impacts on a long term scale and the puzzle piece that is making up the 12 for the World Cup.

"It will be really interesting, but exciting."

Aside from the eye of Dame Noeline looming over each game, competition from players themselves will be a key factor in the race to South Africa.

Over the Constellation Cup at the end of last year, and the Quad Series at the start of 2023, Dame Noeline has called on multiple players to press their case to be Silver Ferns regulars over the last few months.

That internal competition for places will make every ANZ Premiership game a sight to watch in one form or another, with a guaranteed battle between World Cup hopefuls every week.

"Netball New Zealand is in a great space that I don't think we've been in past pinnacle years," said Central Pulse defender Kelly Jury.

"There's actually an abundance of players that can go out there and be in that starting seven for the World Cup, and be in that team.

"It's a great thing. We're all going to push ourselves to be better. 

"We know there's always someone next to us who's going to be fighting for our position.

"It's just all about getting better as individuals."

The ANZ Premiership begins on March 4, when Northern Mystics host Southern Steel at Auckland's Trusts Arena.