New decade, new era, new captain.

Aware the time is now to build depth and groom next generation leaders, Noeline Taurua will unveil the 27th Silver Ferns captain next week.

No Casey Kopua, Maria Folau, Laura Langman or Katrina Rore – the quartet who formed the backbone of last year's ride to World Cup glory in Liverpool – necessitates Taurua assembling a vastly altered squad for the 2020 season which tips off with the Netball Nations in Nottingham next Sunday.

With inspirational defender Kopua and formidable shooter Folau having called time on their illustrious careers, and Langman and Rore rested for this series, leadership succession planning must proceed post-haste.


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"It's not going to happen overnight but we have put processes in place. Now with this northern tour it's a good opportunity for others to start standing up," Taurua said ahead of the tournament in which the Ferns face England, Jamaica and South Africa before the finals day culminates in London.

"It's not only about that person or people it's also about what that structure is going to look like within the Silver Ferns environment.

"Some of these other players that are in the mix don't have the same experience as others had, so I've got to make sure they're well supported and that we manage the load.

"The timing of it is perfect. We're in a new four-year cycle so the work we do over this period, and the structures around them, will set up the leader who can stand by themselves in another four years for the World Cup."

Of the 12 selected to travel north, four stand out as captain and deputy material.

Tenacious long-limbed defender Jane Watson, with 41 tests, composed shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio (37), midcourters Gina Crampton (36) and Shannon Saunders (70) are all being considered for promotion into leadership roles, with an announcement expected this Wednesday.

Prior to the World Cup Taurua adopted a player voting system to anoint Langman captain. This time around, with the need to look longer-term, she's delving much deeper.


The process to appoint new leaders started last Monday and has been carried out in consultation with chief executive Jennie Wyllie, high performance director Keir Hansen and squad players.

"Everybody has talked about the fossils and the spine at the Netball World Cup and that was Maria, Katrina, Casey and Laura but there have also been players in the mix that have been performing at a consistently high level and have been involved in all the series or campaigns.

"When it did get to the semis and the finals they stood and held their own ground. It was really interesting to see their ability to back up during the recent Constellation Cup and still maintain that high international level.

"Those people you have mentioned – the Jane's, Ameliaranne and Gina are people who have stood out in that respect. Even Karin Burger is slowly starting to come through and position herself within the top seven.

"Now is the opportunity for them to take the next step."

At this point Taurua remains unsure how much longer Langman, 33, and Rore, 32, plan to play on.

Laura Langman. Photo / Photosport
Laura Langman. Photo / Photosport

Both sit out this series with an eye to being in peak condition for the Constellation Cup series later in the year. Beyond that, uncertainty prevails.

"That's the decision they have to make about where netball sits for them. The great thing is they're still playing Suncorp Super Netball with Laura and ANZ with Katrina.

"Time will tell as to what they want to do but if we can keep them in the frame, which is what I'm currently doing, hopefully they can get a bit of a rest and build themselves in the gym.

"Hopefully that time away will rekindle the fire and they may want to go another season. We'll find that out as the season progresses."

The other interesting question is whether Langman regains the captaincy on her return or Taurua opts to continue with the new leadership.

"It's hard to know and that's something we'll probably have to take year-by-year. Whether it stays there it's up to that person but also what's required within the team at that moment."

While the Nations Cup has an experimental feel to it, Taurua's relentless demands on the Ferns don't change. After their stunning upset triumph the target is on their backs.

"Our expectation is we go out and win. That's where we really need to start changing our mindset. That's the main objective. It's great for us to back ourselves and the expectation around being world champs."

Taurua identifies Jamaica, who the Ferns meet in Birmingham on January 22, as the strongest side at this tournament.

"If anything I think they'll be the team to beat at this stage and England on home soil is going to be a team of strength as well.

"It will give me a good indicator as to where we are at in a new cycle but my overall objective this year is to get the Constellation Cup in October. This is the start of seeing what players can do so I can't wait to get on court."

Netball Nation's Cup:

Sunday, January 19: Silver Ferns v England, Nottingham
Wednesday, January 22: Silver Ferns v Jamaica, Birmingham
Saturday, January 25: Silver Ferns v South Africa, London
Sunday, January 26: Finals day, London