Silver Ferns management have no concerns about star shooter Maria Tutaia reducing her playing schedule over the next two years.
The Herald this week revealed Tutaia is negotiating with netball bosses to take a sabbatical following next year's Commonwealth Games. While the details are still being worked through, it is likely Tutaia will play only a limited role for the Northern Mystics in the 2018 ANZ Premiership, which will start later next season to accommodate the Silver Ferns programme ahead of the Gold Coast tournament.
National coach Janine Southby said she supports Tutaia's quest to take time away from the sport as it will ultimately prolong the 107-test veteran's career and ensure she is at her best the pinnacle events.
"I think it's about what is best for Maria ... she has played a lot of netball over the past 10 or so years and so we have to look at the long term. She is absolutely committed to the Silver Ferns through the Commonwealth Games and World Cup, it's about how she can be in the best frame of mind and the best shape physically to do that," said Southby.
"There's some discussions happening at the moment about what that will like for her."
Tutaia's international career has been stymied over the past two seasons due to a series of foot injuries, with the 30-year-old playing just five of the past 19 tests for the Silver Ferns since the World Cup final in August 2015.
Over that time Tutaia has played every game for the Mystics and has ended up carrying niggly injuries through to the international season, limiting her appearances at the highest level.
Southby is backing the Netball NZ high performance team to find the right balance for Tutaia, ensuring that she is physically and mentally refreshed for the key campaigns, but is also match fit.
"Maria has indicated she wants to be able to take full part in the Silver Ferns programme and that's the plan. She obviously needs to be at her best to be able to do that. For all the players it's not a one-box fits all, it's about the individual and how we can structure their plan to get them through. So that's what we talk to all the players about is what plan they need to be at their best come the pinnacle events."
Tutaia will be back in camp with the Silver Ferns for next week's national trials in Auckland.