Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Netball: Gritty Mes gets look-in despite knee

Bailey Mes. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Bailey Mes. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Bailey Mes' breakthrough season ended with the cruellest break of all.

The shining light in an otherwise miserable season for the Mystics, Mes was being talked up for re-selection in the Silver Ferns this year in her preferred position of goal shoot rather than as a stop-gap measure in the midcourt.

But when her knee buckled underneath her early on in the Mystics' final match of the season, not only were her hopes of playing international netball this year over, it looked as though it would be touch and go whether Mes would make it back out on court for the start of the 2014 ANZ Championship season.

Despite the injury setback and having limited opportunities at international level, Mes still figured in Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu's plans.

So when medical staff said Mes was making remarkable progress after a knee reconstruction in July, Taumaunu saved a spot for the athletic shooter in the Ferns squad for the January tour to Britain.

Mes has been included as one of four training partners for the tour, which includes tests against England and Jamaica - the Ferns' final outings before next year's Commonwealth Games.

But although Taumaunu is warning the "gritty" Mes is still in the early stages of her comeback, she has included the young shooter in the group so she can work under Silver Ferns assistant and specialist shooting coach Vicki Wilson.

Mes is one of two players the Silver Ferns are welcoming back from injury, with Pulse midcourter Camilla Lees rejoining after missing this year's international season with a stress fracture in her foot. Lees has been included in the test side at the expense of Courtney Tairi, who will still tour as a training partner. Steel midcourter Shannon Francois retains her place in the 12 after impressing in the Constellation Cup series.

Under-21 stars Malia Paseka and Phoenix Karaka will also tour with the senior squad as training partners after impressing in New Zealand's shock victory at the World Youth Cup in August.

"They're a very long shot to make the Commonwealth Games squad, but ... they need to be ready," said Taumaunu.

Former Ferns defender and new mum Anna Harrison was unavailable.

- NZ Herald

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