"We need to improve."

That was the clear message newly-appointed Silver Ferns coach Noelene Taurua had ahead of their second match of the Netball Quad Series against South Africa in Tauranga tonight.

It follows a 52-39 loss by the Silver Ferns against a well-drilled England Roses in their campaign opener at the weekend.

But it's not that simple.


The Silver Ferns have a new, though very experienced coach who is proven to get results, and a newish team.

They're about one-week in to their relationship so it's no surprise they're all still feeling each other out and working out combinations, being assessed in "real-time", as Taurua describes it.

"They're [players] working out how I roll and what the strategies are and what happens both on and off the court ... We need to be disciplined, we need to be smart when we do have ball in hand and we need to be quite focused on keeping it simple," Taurua says.

And she doesn't expect the Silver Ferns to become a well-oiled machine before tonight's game, taking on the SPAR Proteas in front of what looks to be a sell out crowd. As of early yesterday there were only 100 of 2600 tickets left.

"I think it will take a very long time to be honest.

"It will be a slow build and slow grind."

The Silver Ferns' loss on Saturday night has highlighted a number of key areas that need improvement, Taurua says.

"There is always the saying that you're as good as your last game and obviously our last game needs improvement, but also it's a start for us."


Shooting - Maria Folau converting 22 of 30 shots, Ameliaranne Ekenasio 10 of 18 and Te Paea Selby-Rickit 7 of 9 - is just one of those areas that requires improvement.

Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau in training in Tauranga on Monday. Photo / George Novak
Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau in training in Tauranga on Monday. Photo / George Novak

"There were clear areas and we can't hide in regards to that; keeping possession of the ball, we were quite frantic but also the ability to put the shots up when we needed to so you know, players were very aware of things we did do well and not do well," Taurua said, after a visibly physical training session at ASB Baypark Stadium yesterday.

"There's also a importance in regards to the quality of ball that's fed to them," Taurua says.

During their training session they worked on rectifying their mistakes, with a focus on possession of the ball "taking the ball down from one end of the court to the other, and not putting each other under stress".

"Connections need to be better," she says.

But connections can't strengthen without time on the court together, which Taurua says has to be done with support around the new players.

"The intention is definitely there to roll some of the people who didn't get on against England but I'm not doing it without any purpose.

"The best way to be tested is in real-time."

And real-time experience against South Africa will be no easy task - Taurua's expecting a strong performance from their opposition.

Taurua also knows a lot about South African defender Karla Pretorius. She plays wing defence and goal defence in the Sunshine Coast team that Taurua coached to back-to-back Australian netball premiership titles.

"She's a ball-getter, she's a hustler."

With Norma Plummer as their coach - the Australian Netball Hall of Famer who coached Australia between 2004 and 2011 - it is no surprise they play an Australian-style of netball.

Taurua says with an "amazing coach" and their high percentage shooters, they know what they're doing.

"They're very tenacious, but they keep the ball in hand. They're very simple, but their simplicity is what makes them a great team."

Samantha Sinclair is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. Photo / George Novak
Samantha Sinclair is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. Photo / George Novak

Rotorua's Samantha Sinclair is looking forward to putting on the black dress in front of a home crowd and knows what she wants to work on for the match.

"I'm ready to go again," Sinclair says.

"I want to be better at being more available, the versatile centre/wing attack/wing defence says.

She says the Silver Ferns squad has strong players throughout the court and is excited about what Taurua can bring to the team.

"We're all up for the challenge."

Sinclair says being picked for the team means Taurua has confidence in a player but "if you aren't pulling finger you'll know about it".