Netball: De Bruin not ready for a rest

By Daniel Richardson

Leana de Bruin. Photo / File
Leana de Bruin. Photo / File

Leana de Bruin jokingly refers to herself as an "old bird", but the 35-year-old Silver Ferns defender says she doesn't need to be rested or rotated any time soon as the Quad Series continues in Wellington this week.

After being hammered 68-48 by Australia in Sydney on Sunday night, New Zealand will be desperate to make amends and produce a decent effort against England in the capital on Thursday.

Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu has rotated her players during the opening three games of the Quad Series - particularly in the mid-court and shooting circle - but as Casey Williams works her way back from injury, de Bruin and Katrina Grant have seen plenty of minutes in defence.

And that suits de Bruin just fine who said she was in no need of a spell on the pine this week.

"At the moment I'm still going good for an old bird," she laughed.

"But, we'll just see see what [Taumaunu's] plans are and see what she needs to do."

Williams' ongoing injury issues allowed Grant and de Bruin to play a key role in New Zealand's 2-1 Constellation Cup victory over Australia last month and although de Bruin was deployed in the unfamiliar GD bib, the 1.9m defender said it was a good experience.

"It's a position that I don't really play in the ANZ Championship, but getting in the Ferns environment and playing goal defence I've enjoyed it. I think Katrina and I have been building a nice combination together as well, which is awesome."

As for her secret to being one of the premier defenders in the game while in her mid-30s, de Bruin said it was about training smarter not harder.

"Our training has definitely changed since I've been in the team over the years. It's just looking after the body and listening to it because you kind of know how you feel and if you can't do a session it's not because you're soft, it's because you are looking after your body. So it's just being smarter about it."

Then again, if de Bruin needed any inspiration to keep playing at the elite level she can look across the court to the 40-year-old Irene van Dyk, who has played more than 200 tests for New Zealand and South Africa since her international career began in 1994.

"We always see who feels the worst after training," de Bruin said of her older team-mate.

"But we are still giving the young ones a run for their money so it's definitely good to have her there. As long as she's there I won't be the oldest, so I'm good."

Following 34 appearances for South Africa and 63 for New Zealand, de Bruin is closing in on her own century of test caps and should bring up the milestone shortly providing she takes the court in the remaining three games of the Quad Series.

After New Zealand meet England this week, they will play South Africa in Tauranga on Sunday before wrapping up the competition against Australia in Hamilton next Thursday.

In team news, the Silver Ferns welcomed back mid-courter Millie Lees and shooter Jodi Brown to the squad after they missed the trip to Australia for the opening three games of the Quad Series, while Shannon Francois and Anna Thompson have dropped out.

Although Taumaunu said she was yet to settle on a starting seven to meet England, Lees seems likely to slot straight in at wing attack after the mid-court were particularly poor against Australia on Sunday.

Australia and South Africa will also play in Wellington on Thursday night with their match taking place at 6.15pm before the Silver Ferns and England start at 8.25pm.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 02 Sep 2014 22:48:33 Processing Time: 1224ms