It became one of the biggest talking points of the last ANZ Championship season and now the Silver Ferns have been practicing The Harrison Hoist in an attempt to lift their chances of success in the upcoming international season.
The Mystics unveiled the revolutionary approach last season when a defender lifted Anna Harrison to block a shot. The move caused considerable debate not only around its legality but also its value. It can be a risky move because it ties up two defenders, which can be easily negated by quick ball movement by the shooters, but it can also be potentially match-winning if used at the right time.
The Mystics sprang it on the Vixens and it helped them to their first win in Melbourne but they were nearly tipped over the following week by the lowly Tactix, who were clearly ready for it. The Hoist was used more sparingly after that with a couple of other teams pulling it out from time to time.
Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu said they had been practicing the technique in camp in Auckland over the past fortnight but was unsure whether they would use it in the upcoming three-test series against Australia.
"It's not an easy thing to do and I think shooters are much more aware of it," she said. "It's easy to disrupt when you are expecting it so what we have been practicing more is less the technique and more the timing of it and having it as a surprise.
"I think [the Australians] will be ready for it. It might be [something we use in] the Quad Series because the Australians are very clear it could be a possibility with us. I suspect the English and South Africans will be less prepared for it."
It will depend a lot on who is on court at the time. Harrison, who the technique was originally named after, is the best exponent of it but will probably be used as an impact player or at wing defence and Kayla Cullen is also not first-choice.
The Silver Ferns probably have an advantage over Australia at both the shooting and defensive ends of the court but have a young and inexperienced midcourt with the likes of Bailey Mes, who was picked after only one quarter of playing time with the Mystics, Camilla Lees and Cullen.
Centre Laura Langman carried the Magic midcourt all the way to the ANZ Championship title and she will have to do a similar job for the Silver Ferns if they are to wrestle the Constellation Cup off Australia.
In comparison, Australia are stacked with talent in the midcourt with captain Natalie von Bertouch, Mo'onia Gerrard and Madison Browne and Taumaunu knows it's an area they will target.
"They are young and might get exposed," she said of her midcourters. "But I'm very confident that if that happens they will learn and move on.
"I have no concerns about the potential and ability of this group."
The first test of the series is in Melbourne next Sunday before matches in Auckland (Sept 20) and Christchurch (Sept 23) - the first time the Silver Ferns have played in Canterbury since the earthquakes.
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael