Netball: Whirlwind trip to Games for Halpenny

Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu (centre) stands with Liana Leota, Laura Langman, Casey Kopua, Ellen Halpenny and Shannon Francois. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu (centre) stands with Liana Leota, Laura Langman, Casey Kopua, Ellen Halpenny and Shannon Francois. Photo / Greg Bowker.

Silver Ferns newcomer Ellen Halpenny will have just five days to adjust to life in the national team before the side fly out for the UK to finetune their Commonwealth Games preparation.

Waimarama Taumaunu this week finally got her hands on her full 12-strong line-up for the Glasgow tournament with Halpenny and her Magic teammates Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin joining the Ferns in camp for the first time on Monday following a mandatory break after their ANZ finals campaign.

But while the veteran defenders are old hands in the Ferns environment and have long-established combinations in the defensive end, this is the first time Halpenny has experienced a national camp as a fully-fledged member of the playing squad.

With the Commonwealth Games less than three weeks away, the young shooter has been bombarded with new information both on and off the court during this week's camp in Auckland as she tries to get up to speed with the Ferns' processes.

After the players disperse tomorrow, they will not re-group again until July 14 when they fly out for their pre-Games training camp in Bath, England.

Taumaunu admits is a tough ask on Halpenny to get her head around a new gameplan in such a short space of time on top of the physical stress her body is under as part of the Ferns' intensive training schedule in the lead-up to the tournament. But the national coach is pleased with the way the Halpenny, who replaced retired shooter Irene van Dyk in the team, is standing up to the challenge.

"She has a good game sense so she's slotted in pretty well. The players that weren't in the Magic have already had two weeks together, so I think the hardest thing for Ellen was catching up on some of the things that they've been working on," said Taumaunu.

"Her shooting accuracy holds up, the rest of it she's having to learn a lot and having to make some adjustments, but she shoots well and goes to the post and that's why we've picked her."

Taumaunu has unapologetically laid down a demanding training schedule during the build-up camps as she tries to prepare her side for the rigours of tournament play. After coming into camp on Monday the Ferns had already clocked up nine sessions by lunchtime today, with several more training sessions and match-play planned for their remaining time.

"Physically it has been pretty demanding and they're all tired," said Taumaunu.

With such a heavy workload, the Ferns medical staff have also been working overtime monitoring the players. Star shooter Maria Tutaia was rested from today's court-work session with tight calves, but Taumaunu stressed it was not serious.

"Some of the athletes have traditional problems, for want of a better word, so tight calves and things like that. And at this point there's no way we're going to risk anything like that, so it's minor and she's just been rested at this stage."

- NZ Herald

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