England netball skipper Ama Agbeze last night won fans over with her support of Maori Language Week.

The veteran defender was greeted with loud applause by the Hamilton crowd when she opened her speech following her side's 62-55 loss to the Silver Ferns in the Taini Jamison decider with a few lines of te reo Maori.

Agbeze, who has a Kiwi husband, said her speech was an acknowledgement of the hospitality of New Zealanders over the past few weeks.

Agbeze had help from Southern Steel defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, who was educated at a total immersion Maori school in Otaki, and is the sister of Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit.


"I had a very good teacher - Te Paea Selby-Rickit's sister," Agbeze said. "She sent me stuff but I've just been busy with training and captaining so it wasn't until [Wednesday] that actually started practicing, and I was more stressed about my speech than the game, which was odd."

Agbeze previously played alongside Te Huinga Reo - the elder of the Selby-Rickit sisters - at the Central Pulse in the old transtasman league.

It wasn't the only part of Agbeze's speech to earn praise.

The athletic defender, who will turn out for the Northern Stars next season, humorously tackled one of sport's last taboos when she made reference to her menstrual cycle.

"It's been a long tour. As a female, you know when your cycle comes back around you've been here too long," she quipped.

Last night's match completed a gruelling tour for the English side, who have been in Australasia since mid-August. They rolled straight from the Quad Series into a three-test Taini Jamison series against the Ferns.

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