Former Australian Diamonds star Chelsea Locke is playing down any talk of a potential switch of international allegiances after a strong start with the Central Pulse.
Locke (nee Pitman) joined the Pulse this season after taking time away from the sport when she followed her now-husband, former Warriors fullback Kevin Locke, to the UK to support his league career. But after two games for her new franchise Locke is already being touted as a Silver Ferns prospect.
The 27-year-old is one of three former Queensland Firebirds players on the Pulse roster this season, but like now Silver Fern Ameliaranne Wells, Locke does not carry import status as she is eligible to represent New Zealand courtesy of her Kiwi mother. With her ties to New Zealand now being strengthened through marriage and taking up residency in the Capital, many fans hope Locke will make herself available for Silver Ferns selection.
But the 1.81m midcourter, who is also eligible to represent England, said she is yet to make firm decisions over her international future.
"I'm honestly not thinking about it because my sole focus is the Pulse and making sure I'm doing the right thing for the team and being the best netballer I can be, because I don't like losing," she said, referring to the Pulse's disappointing 16-goal loss to her former team last week.
"I just want to focus on performing consistently week-in, week-out for the team and whatever happens at the end of it, if anything, is an extremely amazing added bonus."
Locke said she hasn't had any formal discussions with Ferns coach Janine Southby or the national selectors about a possible switch.
"I have no idea of where [the NZ selectors'] heads are at, or whether I fit the mould of what they might be looking at, and I can't worry about that, as I say my focus is on the Pulse."
Locke wouldn't be the first Australian-raised player to wind up in the black dress, with Wells and former NSW age-grade players Courtney Tairi and Malia Paseka having already trodden that path. The 17-test Diamond would, however, be the first player to represent both Australia and New Zealand at senior level.
The trend for Netball New Zealand to target Australian-born players with Kiwi heritage has not gone down well across the Tasman, with Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander expressing her disappointment when Wells debuted for the Ferns in 2014. Yet Locke said she hasn't had any contact with Alexander or the Netball Australia selectors since returning to the sport.
After an 18-month break from netball, Locke said she is loving being back in the ANZ Championship even if the Pulse have had a difficult start to the season. The crafty wing attack has taken on more of a leadership role at the Pulse with the loss of star shooter Jodi Brown to a serious knee injury.
Locke said she hopes to be a part of driving a culture change in the team that have developed a reputation as being one of the league's underachievers in recent years.
"We're really trying to build something special here. Every single time at the start of the season the team has [talked about] what type of culture they want to achieve. This year we said 'you know what, we try and change the culture every year to be successful, but we actually need to build something so that when new players come in ... they already know what this team is about."
The Pulse's next challenge is the Northern Mystics on Monday night. Locke acknowledges they are facing the Mystics at a dangerous time, with their northern rivals desperate to secure some points following near-misses in the opening two rounds.
"They haven't had the best start to the season, but we want that win too. We don't want anyone coming to our home turf and taking those points away from us. We want teams to travel to Wellington thinking this is going to be hard yakka to try and beat us."