Silver Ferns management look set to take a conservative approach with the elevation of teenage shooting star Tiana Metuarau.
The 16-year-old Wellington schoolgirl's meteoric rise through the sport has been predicted to take another sharp upward turn next week, when the national selectors name their Silver Ferns squad.
After playing a key role for the Central Pulse in her first season of top-level netball this year, and then helping the New Zealand under-21 to the World Youth Cup title in Gaborone earlier this month, Metuarau is among six shooters vying for four spots in the Silver Ferns line-up for next month's Quad Series.
Her inclusion in the national trials has raised the tantalising prospect Metuarau will follow in the footsteps of her mother, Silver Ferns legend Waimarama Taumaunu, in earning a call-up to the senior side in her teens.
But Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby has emphasised the need for careful management of Metuarau's career progression.
"While we need a short-term focus for trials and the international season, it is also about the long-term for these guys, and [Tiana] is still very young so we're very conscious that we don't overload her and we're making sure that the decisions we make around all of
our young players are in their best interests long term."
Given Metuarau, an athletic goal attack, had a heavy workload for the Pulse in her first season in New Zealand's elite league and then went straight into the New Zealand under-21 campaign, it could be too much, too soon to throw her straight into the Silver Ferns squad this year.
The national selectors are expected to take a more prudent approach, by naming Metuarau in the Silver Ferns development squad, and continue to include the talented teen in various squad camps.
Several other members of the world champion under-21 side will feature alongside in next week's trials, including Kelly Jury, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Monica Falkner and Maia Wilson. Of that group, Jury and Wilson have already made their Silver Ferns debut and will be looking to consolidate their spot in the national line-up.
Given the group only returned from Africa last week after a demanding tournament, Southby said the under-21 players' workload will be managed throughout the four-day camp.
"We're just trying to give them as much time as possible to recover and recuperate. There are a couple that we'll be managing their loads, just from what we already know of where they're at. I know [NZ under-21 coach] Kiri Wills and her management team needed to manage a few of them through the tournament."
Another player sidelined for the trials is versatile defender Kayla Cullen, who is still recovering from minor knee surgery in the off-season. Southby said Cullen is still a week away from being ready to return to the court, but should be back in action for the next squad camp in mid-August.
The Ferns coach said management have yet to make a call on whether Cullen will be available for next month's Quad Series, which will be the first block of internationals.
"That's a decision we can't make at this stage," said Southby.
"I spoke to her about a week ago and she is getting herself back in action back in the gym and strengthening [her knee] up. She'll be in camp with us for trials, and the medical staff and lead conditioner will be working around what we need to do to get her back in action.
But hopefully we will see her back on court in the next couple of weeks."