Silver Ferns newcomers Monica Falkner and Whitney Souness are set to be thrust straight into the test match arena over the next month.
The young pair were among three changes to the wider national squad announced yesterday, with the recall of intimidating defender Temalisi Fakahokotau the other notable feature.
Souness and Falkner are both coming off their first full season of franchise-level netball with the Pulse and Magic respectively, and their rapid rise is set to continue in the coming weeks. Souness, a dynamic midcourter, is in line to make her international debut in the Quad Series, while Falkner has been included in the 12-strong test line-up for next month's Taini Jamison series against England.
With next year's Commonwealth Games bearing down fast, coach Janine Southby needs to blood the younger players in the squad now and see what they're capable of.
"It's all very well putting them in a squad, but we want to know what they can do, and you don't know what they can do until you put them out there," said Southby.
"The other thing is we're looking forward to Commonwealth Games and on to the World Cup and one of the things we're really committed to is building depth across all positions. We're looking to speed that work up, and this is the time of year to do it."
Falkner's Silver Ferns call-up caps a stunning rise for the young goal attack, who started every match for the Magic this year before going on to play a starring role in the New Zealand under-21 side's impressive win over Australia in the World Youth Cup final last month.
"It's just gone from zero to one hundred very fast. This time last year I had just finished my first Beko season," said Falkner, who had to skip a test for one of her science papers at Waikato University to attend yesterday's team naming.
"It's definitely happened a lot quicker than I expected, but I am just embracing it and I guess just being willing to learn and develop every chance I can."
Souness forced her way into the Silver Ferns line-up after a consistent year with the Pulse. Southby said the selectors were particularly impressed with her speed, agility and vision in the wing attack role, putting the 22-year-old at the front of a strong pack of young midcourters coming through the ranks.
Souness said making the Silver Ferns was a "dream come true", particularly after a challenging 18 months since rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in late 2015.
"Doing my ACL was a big setback for me and it was tough missing out on my chance with the Pulse last year. This year coming back in my focus was to play franchise again and play some really good netball," said Souness, who also combines netball with part-time university study.
The selectors also named a development squad for the forthcoming season featuring four players from the victorious NZU21 team, as well as the return of Ameliaranne Ekenasio after the birth of her first child. Southby said several players in that group could consider themselves unlucky not to have made the top squad, singling out the Pulse's Claire Kersten and Mystics defender Storm Purvis, who appears to be a casualty of Fakahokotau's recall, as particularly difficult calls.
"A lot of them didn't actually do anything wrong, which is a good place to be in as a coach, but it's never easy when you're actually having to tell those players that. We're going to work as hard as we can to actually get those players opportunities to put their hands up as well," said Southby.
"The good thing is we know we've got some quality players ready to go if players are not performing or if we have injury."