Netball: Rookie with super-size feet joins Diamonds

By Julie Ash

A 17-year-old with "feet the size of planks" has replaced injured Silver Fern Jodi Te Huna in the Auckland Diamonds.

Paula Griffin, who is a member of the national under-21 squad, has been promoted to the Diamonds squad for the National Bank Cup, which starts on April 29.

Te Huna was ruled out of the competition after rupturing knee ligaments leading up to the Commonwealth Games.

It is understood Te Huna will have her knee operated on today. She will then undertake a lengthy rehabilitation programme which, all going well, could see her fit for the Silver Ferns home series against Australia in October.

Griffin has been working with the Diamonds as a member of their train on squad.

Already 1.83m tall, Auckland Diamonds coach Sue Hawkins said the young goal shoot has just gone through a huge growth spurt.

"She has got feet the size of planks so she has probably got more growth to go," Hawkins said. "We have to be careful with her, she gets sore shins."

Griffin joins Jo Morrison, Silver Fern Maria Tutaia and Grace Rasmussen in the shooting line-up.

"You never replace a Jodi Te Huna," Hawkins said. "It will be about giving Paula the experience that say a Grace Rasmussen got last year. But some of these youngsters will have to step up into Jodi's shoes."

Having spent nearly all of last season on the bench, Tutaia should be the player who benefits most from Te Huna's withdrawal.

Making several appearances for the Silver Ferns during the recent Commonwealth Games, Tutaia is seen as the successor to Irene van Dyk.

"Maria is just a fresh young player. Her eyes are wide open now and she has been given so much opportunity last year and has developed herself well.

"She is quite different to what she was last year. Last year she was a rookie, now she is not.

"She has had a lot more exposure, I am looking forward to seeing what Maria Tutaia can do this year."

Former Australian assistant coach Lisa Beehag will travel to Auckland this month for a two-day clinic with the Diamonds.

She will also assist Hawkins in a clinic for coaches in the Auckland area.

Meanwhile, former Australian netball captain Kathryn Harby-Williams will meet the Diamonds late next week to discuss her future with the franchise.

Harby-Williams retired from all netball at the end of last season but had a change of heart and re-signed with the franchise.

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