Netball: Silver Ferns star Grace Nweke back to drawingboard for lessons in Fast5 format

She might be an established Silver Fern star, but Grace Nweke is about to become a rookie once again. 

"Yep, Fast5 debut happening this week," confirmed the towering shooter. 

The top six netball teams in the world will vie for the 2023 title and they'll do it in front of a very vibrant Chritchurch crowd. 

Grace Nweke in action against Australia.
Grace Nweke in action against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

"The atmosphere at Fast5 is always really epic, so I am thinking it is going to be the same," says NZ coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek. "Like, everyone dresses up, it's sort of like the sevens of old... there's gin bars, there's people having fun.

"The entertainment factor of the games... the fact that they can swing really quickly with those long shots, I think people are going to really enjoy it."   

The game itself is also different. It's shorter, only five players are allowed on court per team, and like basketball, long-distance goals are worth two or three points.

Nweke is renowned for a style of play that sees her hovering around goal and providing a big target for her feeders, rather than stepping out beyond short range. This format will be completely new to her.

"I'll definitely be going for twos and threes," she insisted. "I back my goal attack to get my rebounds, same way I get theirs.

"We have a gameplan that we will work towards, but if the time is right and I'm feeling hot, I'll definitely go for those big ones.

"I'm happy to be here, happy to be with a really great bunch of girls and I guess Fast5 is about having fun. It's a lot more social and a little less pressure, so it's exciting, it's a new game for me." 

Nweke made a successful return from a World Cup-ending knee injury to help the Silver Ferns to a drawn Constellation Cup series with Australia last month.

Fast5 Ferns strut their stuff at 2022 tournament.
Fast5 Ferns strut their stuff at 2022 tournament. Photo credit: Photosport

Her inclusion in the Fast5 squad is something the coach is grateful for, as they aim to better their bronze medal placing last year. 

"It's nice to have her on my team in this kind of a format," agreed Delaney-Hoshek. "It's great to have her, not only for her shooting, but obviously rebounding and having that height as well." 

A different challenge, crowd and court, but nothing Grace Nweke can't handle.