Decisions made by the Silver Ferns selectors this week will set the course for the New Zealand side's assault on the pinnacle events over the next two seasons.

The Silver Ferns have reached a critical juncture in the four-year international netball cycle, with the 15-strong squad on Monday likely to be the same pool of players from which next year's Commonwealth Games team is picked. There are some tough calls to be made.

The upcoming international season and the return leg of the Quad Series in January next year, is the last opportunity for young players to be tested in a test match environment, which may hasten some conversations around whether to promote young players now and gamble on them being ready for the major events.

This week's trials in Auckland feature a raft of young talent, with a number of fresh faces pushing for inclusion in the squad, Pulse midcourter Whitney Souness and under-21 stars Monica Falkner and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson. There's also a handful of players like Sam Sinclair, Kelly Jury, Gina Crampton, Maia Wilson and Temalisi Fakahokotau that have test caps to their name, but are yet to cement their place in the Silver Ferns line-up.


The biggest headache for selectors looms in the midcourt, with a sudden influx of strong wing attacks putting incumbents Grace Rasmussen and Gina Crampton under pressure.

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby is heartened by the strength of the new breed of midcourters coming through, but admits it will be a challenge to find the right balance of players who "own" their positions as well as provide strong cover in other areas.

Southby said she is looking for players that display precision, poise and power.
"A few years ago the midcourt was a real concern, so from the selection panel who have been around a little while they're really excited by what they are seeing in the midcourt," she said.

"We're looking for middies who can execute consistently and do it for a whole game and players who are courageous and smart - not just with their passing, but with their movement and being able to dictate and be that strong person that links between both ends."

Sinclair is one such player looking to stand out among the log-jammed midcourt. The 22-year-old made her Silver Ferns debut in South Africa during the Quad Series earlier this year, but with a couple of key players rested from that tour, she is feeling the selection squeeze in this week's trials.

"The next three series [Quad Series, Taini Jamison series and Constellation Cup] in terms of international exposure will be massive leading into Comm Games next year and the World Cup the year after, so to be able to get more game time under my belt, especially against the likes of Australia will be really valuable. This is definitely a very critical time."

"There is really strong competition for places and it is a bit daunting, but you have to try not to think about that and just go out there and put your best foot forward."

Along with naming the wider Silver Ferns squad and development squad on Monday, Southby will also reveal her test line-ups for the first two series of the international season - the Quad Series, featuring Australia, England and South Africa; and the Taini Jamison series against the visiting English side.

Southby is expected to name slightly different line-ups for each series, allowing to manage a couple of injuries in the squad and build depth in the ranks.

Silver Ferns trialists
Defenders: Karin Burger, Temalisi Fakahokotau, Katrina Grant, Kelly Jury, Phoenix Karaka, Storm Purvis, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Zoe Walker, Jane Watson.
Midcourters: Gina Crampton, Kayla Cullen, Shannon Francois, Claire Kersten, Erikana Pedersen, Grace Rasmussen, Samantha Sinclair, Whitney Souness, Elisapeta Toeava.
Shooters: Monica Falkner, Bailey Mes, Tiana Metuarau, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Maria Tutaia, Maia Wilson.