Jess Moulds' elevation into the New Zealand Under-21 netball team to play against Australia in September confirms that the Northland-born-and-bred player has lifted her game to international level.
Moulds' first big breakthrough came when she was selected in the 15-strong New Zealand U21 squad that played in a tri-nations tournament against Australia and England in Brisbane last weekend. The 18-year-old rose to the occasion.
"It was a really cool experience, I loved it and it improved my game," she said.
Following the tri-nations tournament, where more relaxed rules permitted a squad of 15, yesterday's announcement reduced the squad to 12, the regulation size for a test team.
Before moving south to study at Otago University at the beginning of the year, Moulds was recognised as one of Northland's most exciting young netballers. While head girl at Otamatea High in Maungaturoto last year, Moulds travelled to Auckland up to four times a week to get experience playing a higher level of netball.
Within a few weeks of arriving in Otago this year, she was reaping the rewards of her dedication. The 1.88m Moulds was snapped up to play goal keep at club level.
By July Moulds had been selected for the Otago U21 team that won the hotly contested final against Wellington at the New Zealand Age-Group Championships last month.
Moulds aims to take her chance to impress the selectors against Australia and maintain her place in the team to defend the World Youth Cup, which New Zealand won in Miami in 2004.
Despite her dedication to netball, Moulds is equally determined to complete a BSc and become a dietitian.
"I want to keep my studies going, but it's quite hard," she said.
Moulds comes from a Maungaturoto dairy farming family with a keen interest in sport.
NZ U21 team: Jodi Beaumont, Alanah Cassidy (Waikato), Hayley Crofts (Pulse/ Southland), Hannah Broederlow, Camilla Lees, Jess Moulds, Jaimee Power (Otago), Grace Rasmussen, Susan Tagicakibau, Paula Griffin (Mystics/Auckland-Waitakere), Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Manawatu), Elias Shadrock (Bay of Plenty); Reserves: Te Amo Amaru-Tibble (Wellington), Claire Kersten, Emily Close (Otago), Charlotte Kight (Canterbury).