Temalisi Fakahokotau's re-entry into the international netball arena could be described much like her playing style - explosive, impactful and perfectly-timed.

Nearly three years after playing her last test, the livewire defender made a spectacular return for the Silver Ferns in Thursday night's 62-55 win over England in Porirua. Fakahokotau's insertion in the game late in the third quarter provided the spark the Ferns needed to fire up their defence, which until that point had failed to consistently disrupt the slick English attack.

In doing so, Fakahokotau threw the race for defensive spots wide open, with the selectors now faced with three different specialist goal keep options as they look ahead to next month's Constellation Cup series against Australia.

Just as Kelly Jury did last weekend against Australia, Fakahokotau seemed to come up with the crucial turnover when the Ferns needed it most. The pair's match-winning performances is putting pressure on more established players Phoenix Karaka and Jane Watson.


But Fakahokotau didn't have the big picture in mind when she took the court on Thursday night. She said her only concern was getting out there and doing her job.

"I was quite nervous coming on at the end of the third quarter when it was so tight, but I was definitely really excited to get out there and have that opportunity and just play, enjoy it."

Ferns coach Janine Southby was delighted with how the 22-year-old stood up against experienced shooter Jo Harten.

"We need anyone who comes on the court during the game to lift the intensity and add value. We've known when we've used it well in the past it makes a real difference to the team and lifts the energy," she said.

Southby admitted there is an oversupply of specialist goal keeps in the New Zealand line-up, but she sees that as a good challenge for the selectors.

"We're lucky we have a wealth of GKs in the country that can do that at the moment, and that's the depth we need to build in every position in the team."

Now Fakahokotau has found her way back into the national side, you get the feeling she is determined it won't be another fleeting visit this time.

It has been a tough road back into the black dress for the young defender, who despite her immense athletic talents, found herself out of favour with the national selectors due to attitudinal reasons.

The former Westlake Girls' High student made her debut for New Zealand in 2014 after a stand-out rookie season with the Northern Mystics.

A freak hand injury ruled her out of contention for the 2015 World Cup selection, before questions over her fitness, work ethic and on-court discipline saw her dropped from the squad later that year. Fakahokotau took the selectors' criticisms on the chin, vowing to work harder to win back her place.

A move to the Tactix this season proved the shake-up she needed to jump-start her career. The strong training culture at the Tactix helped Fakahokotau develop a more robust work ethic and a better understanding of the off-court preparation that is required. She also found more regular court time and was leaned upon heavily as the anchor in the Tactix defensive end.

There is a sense that perhaps her Silver Ferns debut came a little too easily for her the first time around, when she was effectively next cab off the rank after then-captain Casey Kopua suffered a serious knee injury. But this time around she has had to work hard for it and it means all the more to her because of it.

"I'm just so excited to be here. Even just being named into the team [for the Taini Jamison series], I was bawling my eyes out," a cheerful Fakahokotau said after Thursday night's win.

The next challenge for Fakahokotau will be proving she can have the same impact for a sustained period.

Southby is expected to reward the energetic defender with a start in tomorrow's second test in Napier.