Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Sam Sinclair and Kelly Jury the two newcomers in Silver Ferns squad

Sam Sinclair is one of two uncapped players named in the 2017 Silver Ferns squad. Photo/PHOTOSPORT.
Sam Sinclair is one of two uncapped players named in the 2017 Silver Ferns squad. Photo/PHOTOSPORT.

There are tough acts to follow, then there's the position Silver Ferns newcomer Sam Sinclair finds herself in.

Sinclair was one of two new faces in the 2017 Silver Ferns squad named today, joining Magic teammate Kelly Jury as the only uncapped players in the group.

Her elevation to the national squad comes after the withdrawal of star midcourter Laura Langman, who is ineligible for Silver Ferns selection next season after signing a deal to play in the new Australian league in 2017.

Sinclair is likely to find herself fast-tracked straight into the test line-up for the January tour to South Africa and England, with the 21-year-old shaping up Langman's replacement in the centre-wing defence role.

With the blocking of Langman from test selection an issue still dividing the netball community, Sinclair will be under pressure to step up and fill the significant void left by the 141-test star.

But Rotorua-born Sinclair said she doesn't feel any added pressure to perform.

"Laura is an absolute legend of the game and the legacy she leaves you can't really compare to any one else. I guess I've just got to do my job first and foremost and be the best I can be and not try to fill anyone's shoes," she said.

Sinclair has been knocking on the door of national selection for the past couple of years, with some tipping her as possible bolter in last year's World Cup line-up. She believes the hard work she has put in over the last season to build resilience, as well as taking her opportunities when the came in NZA tours and the Fast5 World Series helped clinch her selection this time.

"Janine [Southby] said when she called it was a couple of years of hard work. I guess from my perspective it was the consistency and possibly putting the foot down and doing the hard work to build my fitness up.

"I have always prided myself on being fit, but when you go from playing school netball to ANZ Champs, it's a major step up and you need to do everything you can to be able to compete with those international players."

Sinclair said it is extra special to make the step-up alongside Jury, her Magic teammate of the past two seasons. Jury, a 1.92m defender, is seen as a potential foil for Australian sharpshooter Caitlin Bassett.

"I think our excitement levels are pretty on par - likewise our parents," said Sinclair.

Langman wasn't the only notable omission from the Ferns squad, with silky shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio withdrawing from the team after announcing she and husband Damien are expecting their first child.

After a breakthrough season for the Silver Ferns this year, Ekenasio had been looking forward to further enhancing her credentials with the Central Pulse in next year's new elite domestic competition before learning of her pregnancy.

"It is very exciting news and such a completely different path after being so solely focused on netball for so long," she said.

The Silver Ferns team for the Netball Quad Series in South Africa and England in January/February 2017 will be announced in December.

Silver Ferns triallists will be announced following the completion of the 2017 ANZ Premiership in June, with trials to be conducted in July. Further players can be added to the squad following these trials.

SILVER FERNS SQUAD - 2017
Gina Crampton, Kayla Cullen, Shannon Francois, Katrina Grant, Anna Harrison, Kelly Jury, Phoenix Karaka, Bailey Mes, Storm Purvis, Grace Rasmussen, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Sam Sinclair, Maria Tutaia, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson.

- NZ Herald

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