Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Katrina Grant to captain new-look Silver Ferns

Katrina Grant in action. Photo / Dean Purcell
Katrina Grant in action. Photo / Dean Purcell

Katrina Grant has been confirmed as captain of a new-look Silver Ferns line-up today.

As reported in the Herald yesterday, Grant will succeed her close friend and former defensive partner Casey Kopua at the helm of the national team.

The Pulse defender will lead a vastly different Ferns side from last season, with new coach Janine Southby making a raft of changes to the team, including three new caps - Maia Wilson, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Storm Purvis.

Purvis is the biggest surprise in the 12-strong line-up for this month's Quad Series, earning the nod ahead of several young players, including her Steel teammate Jane Watson, who kept Purvis on the bench for most of the season.

The 23-year-old joins Grant, Phoenix Karaka and Anna Harrison, who makes her return to the national team following time away from the sport for the birth of her second child, in the defensive end, which is missing some big names from last season.

Kopua is on maternity leave following the birth of her first child in May, while veteran defender Leana de Bruin today announced she is retiring from international netball.

Wilson has earned the nod in the shooting end ahead of Cathrine Tuivaiti, who was vying to win her place back in the Ferns line-up for the first time since 2014.

With Maria Tutaia sidelined through a foot injury, Selby-Rickit steps up to the national side for the first time.

Grant, who will become the 26th player to captain the Silver Ferns, was a surprise pick for captain, with veteran midcourter Laura Langman favoured for the role.

Langman will continue on as vice captain of the team.

Grant said she was honoured to be lead the side.

"Every time I play for my country it is an absolute honour, and to now be given the opportunity to lead the Silver Ferns as their captain alongside Laura - I'm still a little lost for words," Grant said.

"It is an amazing feeling and one I'm not sure will sink in until we stand arm-in-arm for the first test to sing the national anthem."

Southby said Katrina and Laura will be an excellent leadership team for the Silver Ferns going forward.

"Their immense leadership, years of experience, respect for the Black Dress and the regard they are held in by their peers is a tribute to the type of people they are," Southby said.

"There is an experienced core in this Silver Ferns team and a number of new faces who will continue to build and shape the team as we head towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup in 2019."

The Silver Ferns will open their 2016 international season against world number three, England Roses, in a blockbuster doubleheader in Auckland next Saturday.

Silver Ferns for Quad Series
Kayla Cullen
Ameliaranne Ekenasio (nee Wells)
Shannon Francois
Katrina Grant (captain)
Anna Harrison
Phoenix Karaka
Laura Langman (vice-captain)
Bailey Mes
Storm Purvis
Grace Rasmussen
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Maia Wilson

- NZ Herald

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