Maia Wilson's coming-of-age England netball tour sparked emotional scenes in the Birmingham crowd.

Wilson, the Northern Stars shooter, has been the standout individual across two commanding team performances from the Silver Ferns in their Nations Cup tournament.

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The 22-year-old feels confirming her test potential has been a long time coming — only now with the retirement of Maria Folau has Wilson burst through the door to stake her long-term claims for the goal shoot role alongside new Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Wilson followed her 27/29 in the 16-goal win over England in Nottingham last Monday with 42/45 in yesterday's 71-45 demolition of Jamaica — her performance in the second match leaving her mum in the Birmingham stands overcome with joy.


"My mum, stepdad and brother have flown over," the beaming Wilson said. "It was my first solid match starting last time and it was really special to have them in the crowd. I love having them over. Mum is a bit stoked, she had a bit of a tear in her eye. I think she's enjoying watching me have a lot of fun out there.

"They're here all the way through. It's really cool to have some whanau support out there. We don't have many but I think my family makes enough noise for the rest of them."

Wilson made her test debut in 2016 but has played 12 tests since after slipping down the pecking order to the point she missed selection at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and last year's World Cup.

Four years on, she's finally finding her feet after delivering her best shooting performances and playing the most minutes of her test career.

"I'm really thriving within this environment. It has taken me three or four years to get here but I'm really stoked I'm starting to mature and get some good court time under my belt.

"I'm loving playing the game with a good group of girls which I hope you can see because we're having a lot of fun out there.

"There was always people in front of me so with the slow transition of the new group and blooding new players like myself I've been able to take that opportunity with two hands.

"In combination with being able to get fit and lose a bit of weight, that has helped me. I'm feeling really strong out there and I'm happy that's able to correlate on court."

Maia Wilson has stepped up for the Silver Ferns. Photo / Photosport
Maia Wilson has stepped up for the Silver Ferns. Photo / Photosport

Wilson's slick combination with Ekenasio has proved a highlight of this tour. The pair complement each other — Ekenasio controlling the perimeter while Wilson moves swiftly along the baseline to rekindle their previous partnership.

"When I first debuted in the ANZ Championship at the time I was playing for the Central Pulse and with Mels. Within this international stage there's no one better to be paired with. She leads out on court, she's the most amazing person and it shows that we're starting to form a really good connection. Me starting to settle in that combination will be good for the future.

"The more I get out on court the more I'm going to grow into a better player. I can't settle on what's going on at the moment. Once teams start to analyse how I play I'm going to have to tweak and adjust but for now I'm going to ride that wave and slowly bring those new transitions in."

Not so long ago the problem area for the Ferns, the shooting end has rapidly morphed into a strength, despite the departure of the influential Folau.

Wilson's increased court time was in part due to a minor knee injury which sidelined Bailey Mes for the Jamaica match but her consistency this week has impressed Ferns coach Noeline Taurua and pushed her case for similar minutes in the remainder of the tournament.

"Maia is starting to become a force in herself and that's really pleasing," Taurua said.

"Her shooting percentages are really high. Her strategic nous is really standing out for me. She's very smart under there. She's not only setting up her combination with Ameliaranne but also she gets her body into a good position to relieve the pressure.

"To be able to back up from the England game was always going to be a question mark but she answered that. I'd like to think for South Africa she can do the same."

Wilson's trajectory is but one example of the direction this new Ferns era appears to be heading.