The emergence of several unheralded youngsters during the early rounds of the ANZ Championship has raised questions over the timing of Silver Ferns squad selections.

Fifteen players were contracted for the 2016 season at the end of last year, with captain Casey Kopua later withdrawing due to pregnancy.

Netball New Zealand contracts up to 18 players a year, but with a number of newcomers unexpectedly starting and thriving this season, many have wondered whether coach Janine Southby should have left a few more spots open.

The likes of 18-year-old Pulse shooter Maia Wilson, who shot an impressive 41 from 42 in last week's narrow loss to the Tactix, Mystics defender Holly Fowler, and the Steel's Jane Watson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit have all been touted as Silver Ferns prospects.


But Southby does not believe her December selections were premature and has warned caution is prudent when promoting young talent.

"We've still got the opportunity of bringing [the youngsters] in in August if we feel their play warrants that. But being realistic too, there is an element of people aren't aware of them. It's about consistency when you look at selection and you keep an eye on them and note how consistently they are performing," she said.

"We're interested and we're going to keep a really close eye on them and we've got some good programmes underneath the Ferns where there will be opportunities to grow them further in that environment."

But it's not just youngsters competing for the remaining places in the national squad. There are also players fighting for reselection and a potential Australian convert in the mix.

Two members of last year's World Cup line-up - Malia Paseka and Phoenix Karaka - were left out of the wider New Zealand squad in December. At the time, Southby left the door open for their return if they can get back to the standards set in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Mystics defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, a two-test Silver Fern who is developing a reputation for terrorising shooters, is a chance to force her way back into the squad if she can address concerns over her work ethic and discipline.

Intrigue also surrounds the international future of former Diamonds star Chelsea Locke, who returned to the ANZ Championship this year with the Pulse after taking a break from the game in 2015. Australian-born Locke, who married former Warriors star Kevin late last year, is eligible to represent New Zealand and Australia courtesy of her Kiwi mother.

Southby said she had met Locke in the Pulse environment but hasn't had any formal discussions over the 27-year-old's availability. Should Locke declare her interest in playing for New Zealand, Southby said she wouldn't feel uncomfortable selecting a former Australian international.

"You really like to see that people have come through the system, but the reality is the world is a smaller place now than it ever has been, and there could be Kiwis residing in many different countries that could be eligible and we'd be foolish not to look hard at all those players."