The Silver Ferns have a significant task on their hands - finding a replacement for inspirational defender Casey Kopua. After 112 games in the black dress, Kopua retired after this year's Netball World Cup, leaving a spot up for grabs in the Silver Ferns' defensive unit when they return to the court next month. Merryn Anderson highlights the main defensive contenders to make the Ferns' squad to visit England in January, and how they've been performing at the Super Club netball tournament in Nelson.
Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix)
Was dominant at goal keep for the Ferns at the World Cup, and will be an obvious selection if fit, after being on the bench with an ankle injury so far this tournament. The Tactix struggled without the leadership and experience of their captain on day two, losing by 13 goals to the Collingwood Magpies. The Tactix were solid for the first half, leading for a few minutes in the second quarter but couldn't match the intensity of the Magpies, going down 51-38.
Katrina Rore (Central Pulse)
Will be almost guaranteed a spot on the Ferns team, but it will be interesting to see where coach Noeline Taurua plays her. Rore started her career as a circle defender but impressed at wing defence for the Ferns this year. Rore played a full game on Monday and was strong on both attack and defence when playing at wing defence with a predictably composed all-around performance.
Karin Burger (Central Pulse)
A firm contender for the goal defence bib for the Silver Ferns, Burger played three quarters at GD for the Pulse on day two, plus a full game on day one. She impressed in the Pulse's 56-39 win over the Wasps yesterday, with three gains, two intercepts, three deflections and a rebound. Burger and Rore could continue their GD/WD combination for the Ferns. "We're just trying new things out and seeing how we go, obviously internationally that's the way we play and we're testing the waters here," Rore said.
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Northern Mystics)
Called into the Silver Ferns squad that travelled to Liverpool for the World Cup as cover for Rore, Sokolich-Beatson was ultimately sent home as Rore recovered from her calf injury. The 23-year-old has impressed at both wing defence and goal defence this tournament, with six gains, two intercepts and nine deflections in their 45-41 loss to the Steel yesterday.
Phoenix Karaka (Northern Mystics)
Contracted to the Northern Mystics for 2020, but hasn't played in this series yet, due to still being in Australia for Kayla Cullen's wedding. She was part of the successful World Cup campaign this year but did not feature in the final or semifinal, so she'll be hoping to get some court time this tournament to show the selectors that she deserves to remain in the squad.
Temalisi Fakahokotau (Mainland Tactix)
Played a full game against the Stars on day one but was quiet by her standards, with only one intercept. Tactix coach Julie Seymour said that she has been progressing in training after her ACL injury last year, however due to her grandfather's passing, Fakahokotau has gone to spend time with her family and will not be participating in any other games this tournament. With only one full game played all year due to her recovery from injury, it would be asking a lot for her to be at full form for the Silver Ferns in January.
Kelly Jury (Central Pulse)
Injured her shoulder in May playing for the Magic and is still recovering, so won't be available for Ferns selection. Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said Jury should be on court for the Pulse in February for the ANZ Premiership preseason, but isn't being risked for Super Club.
Kate Burley (Northern Stars)
Part of the 2019 New Zealand A Team, the 22-year-old was solid for the Northern Stars with four gains and two intercepts, but will have to really impress in the next games to make her way into the Ferns squad. The Stars defence couldn't stop Magic shooter Kelsey McPhee yesterday, who led her side to a 53-39 win with an MVP performance, nailing 35 of 38 shots. The Stars attackers weren't able to convert any turnovers, and shot at only 44 per cent in the second quarter.