The Silver Ferns' quest to rejuvenate their ranks looks set to continue tonight, with dynamic midcourter Whitney Souness expected to make her international debut in the New Zealand side's Quad Series opener against South Africa.
In the past 12 months, seven players have debuted for the Ferns - a record number of new players injected into the group over that time frame. Souness, one of the wildcard selections in Janine Southby's 2017-18 squad, will be the next.
With the Commonwealth Games nine months away, there's pressure on Southby to give new players opportunities on court in next week's Quad Series and the Taini Jamison series against England a week later.
The world No 5 South African side appears the safest environment in which to throw Souness into the mix. After tonight's game, the Ferns play England in Auckland and Australia in Invercargill.
Since being named in the national squad, the past two weeks have been a whir of trainings, meetings, media and promotional duties for Souness. It's been a huge period of learning but the 21-year-old believes she is ready for her biggest educational experience - taking the court in the international arena.
"There's been a lot of information to take on board. It's been a bit overwhelming, all the stuff I've had to get my head around over the past couple of weeks. But I've had a lot of help and support and I definitely feel ready," the Porirua-born star said.
"I'm not sure what to expect. I think for me, it's kind of about embracing this moment and being part of the Silver Ferns environment - that in itself is such a huge thing - but to be able to play will be another big step and even cooler, so I guess I'll just wait and see what happens."
While a decision was yet to be made yesterday on whether Souness would get her opportunity to debut this weekend, Southby said she has been impressed with how the young midcourter has taken the added demands of the national team in her stride and is stepping up on court.
"She's certainly put her hand up in camp. She's energetic, she brings a lot of variety into our attacking game and I've been impressed with what she's been putting out there."
Southby said given the change the Ferns have already been through in the past 12 months, she is mindful of the need to keep developing connections in the top combinations and will not be throwing players on "willy-nilly". But the need to develop depth in the squad is also acute.
Ferns management have selected two different line-ups for the Quad Series and three-test series against England next month. Souness, fellow midcourter Sam Sinclair, shooter Maia Wilson and athletic defender Phoenix Karaka will be swapped out for the English series in favour of Grace Rasmussen, Kayla Cullen, who is returning from minor knee surgery, Monica Falkner and Temalisi Fakahokotau respectively.
The Quad Series starts tonight with Australia taking on England, before the Ferns play South Africa at the same Brisbane venue.
Netball Quad Series
Today, Brisbane Entertainment Centre
5pm: Australia v England
7pm: New Zealand v South Africa