That Geva Mentor is the best at putting up the shutters in the realm of netball is indisputable, more so now than ever.

The veteran England Roses netballer goes about her business with the efficiency of a floor trader in a bustling stock exchange market.

She almost comes across as inconspicuous on the court but the second her sixth sense takes over you somehow get the feeling the goal keep is capable of reading the opposition foragers' mind with the ease of light passing through transparent materials, if the expressions of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and some fans in the opening test match of the Taini Jamison Trophy test series in Porirua on Thursday are anything to go by.

You sort of come to expect that from someone who turns 33 on Sunday next week but take a closer look at her constitution and you'll find she seldom ever rubs the umpires the wrong way.


"I guess I'm different to most defenders going around," Mentor said last night from the Te Pania Hotel in Napier before the Roses reload for the second test of the three-match series against New Zealand at the Pettigrew-Green Arena from 2.15pm tomorrow.

"I pride myself in trying to be as clean as possible. It's not necessarily about roughing up my opponents. I'd rather let my skills do the talking."

She finds conducting a welcoming party with fellow defenders in and around the circle, and trying to read what the young and exciting breed of shooters are concocting for them, tend to be enough to occupy their attention than worry about the benefits of what raising the physicality stakes will do for their game.

"Different countries are now producing some fantastic goal shooters ... so my job is getting a lot tougher out there."

For Mentor there's not much to add to the complexities already on the court so she simply aims to ensure the 117-cap player is more adaptable.

At a time when players succumb to gravity - and others defy gravity to find themselves hurtling over hoardings - the 1.88m defender from Bournemouth has managed to avoid the chaos and stay on the straight and narrow.

"I think it's to do with my personality and people know me off the court and they pretty much see what they see on the court as well.

"There are some girls with white-line fever and I think my fever comes out in the passion I have for my teammates around me rather than muscle up and try to win in a dirty way."

White-line fever refers to the radical change in a person's behaviour when they assume the mantle of players in sport.

From where Mentor takes her mark in the defensive circle, if she keeps the umpires out of the equation when the whistleblowers find themselves faced with a 50-50 decision she isn't in their picture.

"We have all sorts of fun and games in the circle and that's what I enjoy most," she said, mindful there's never a dull moment because scavengers all bring something different in trying to outfox their opponents. Poker-faced Silver Ferns goal attack Maria Tutaia is among the best she has come across.

"Maria, with that arm of hers, is just beyond fire so I do find myself pressuring her over a shot and then she still sinks it.

"I actually find myself saying, 'Oh good shot', and then I say to myself, 'Damn you, girl'," she said with a laugh, chastising herself for giving encouragement to an adversary but reconciles that with giving credit where it's due and resorting to finding another way to make life difficult for the shooters.

Mentor said it was imperative for the Roses to not overly focus on just Tutaia but the Silver Ferns outfit, who rolled out players from the bench to test their mettle.

England, she said, had come into the series on a platform of confidence and it was now about building on that with a modicum of consistency.

"It's awesome also that we're in a learning phase as well and building combinations," she said.

The bigger picture, she said, was England working towards the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games early next year and then the World Cup.

For someone who made her debut against the Silver Ferns in 2001 as an impressionable 16-year-old, Mentor loves what netball has done for her.

"It's opened so many doors and that's all I've known, really," she said, relishing joining a new domestic club team and keeping the flame burning on the global stage.

She intends to take the Gold Coast games and World Cup in her stride before reassessing where she's at.

"Obviously starting a family and maybe raising a few Mentors coming through the netball teams would be on the agenda but I don't want to leave it too late," she said after marrying Lachlan Crawford and settling in Australia where she also plies her trade professionally.

Mentor umms and aahs when asked if that will signal her retirement from playing.

She said the Kiwis had paved the way to continue playing after motherhood.

"By all means I don't think it's an excuse to stop playing if you're able to balance both of them and having good family support so it would be great to carry on through until my body says, 'Yep, I've had enough'," she said.

Mentor believes netball chose he rather than the other way around because she played basketball at school and trampolining was her main passion.

"I only joined the netball team because all my other friends did," she said, chuckling as she cast her mind back to when that gave them licence as pupils to leave school earlier.