Netball: Scarlett 'a bit rusty' but happy to be back

By Dana Johannsen

Anna Scarlett trained with the Silver Ferns this week for the first time in three years. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Anna Scarlett trained with the Silver Ferns this week for the first time in three years. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Just over six weeks ago, former beach volleyball star Anna Scarlett made the agonising decision to give up on her Olympic dream.

Now, the Commonwealth Games beckon.

But if it sounds like she's settling for the next best thing, it certainly didn't feel that way for Scarlett when she got the phone call yesterday morning from Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken telling her she would be heading to Delhi.

"I couldn't believe it," Scarlett enthused.

"It was just so exciting to know I'd be wearing that black dress again and now I just can't wait to run back out there and sing the national anthem and play for my country again."

Having played very little in the way of top-level netball since turning her back on the Ferns three years ago after the bitter disappointment of missing out on the 2007 World Champs team, Scarlett said she wasn't getting her hopes up for re-selection this year.

She was prepared to fight and scrap her way back into the national side, but never did she expect that her return to the Ferns would be so swift.

"It's all happened incredibly fast, it's been amazing. It's all gone so smoothly that I'm hoping nothing bad is going to happen," she said.

"I had a lot to prove and I still do, so realistically I didn't expect anything. I just had to give it my best shot and hope the selectors had the faith in me that I could step up to the level required."

Aitken said Scarlett's well-known ability to "wreak havoc" with the opposition had not been diluted after three years on the beach volleyball tour.

While she admits Scarlett is still "a bit rusty" Aitken believes that with the help of defensive coach Waimarama Taumaunu it won't be long before Scarlett is back up to speed.

"Wai as defensive coach is really looking forward to working with her, Scarlett will be very clear on what's required from Wai, that's for sure. And I think she'll respond really well to that direction."

While Scarlett has been outspoken in the past over her omission from the 2007 World Championships team, which led to strained relations with the Ferns coach for some time, Aitken said it was all behind them now.

"She was pretty restrained I have to say over the selection camp. She came in very quietly, and she just watched and looked and learned and really appreciated the fact that everyone has moved on from three years ago and she didn't expect to just come back in and that was that.

"She's developed the respect of the players in the team and I think her learnings from volleyball will be really good for the Silver Ferns environment moving forward."

- NZ Herald

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