By Liam Napier at Nottingham Arena

As far as new eras go, Noeline Taurua could not have asked for any more from her emerging Silver Ferns.

Dispatching a similarly new-look England side by 16 goals in Nottingham – the largest winning margin against the hosts since 2017 – is impressive enough but to get all 11 players on court represents several boxes ticked for the first outing of 2020.

In the context of the international game, it's important to acknowledge England are missing the likes of influential shooters Helen Housby and Jo Harten, defender Geva Mentor and midcourt veteran Serena Guthrie for the Netball Nations Cup.


But so, too, have the Ferns left Laura Langman and Katrina Rore at home while adapting to life after Maria Folau and Casey Kopua following last year's World Cup success in Liverpool.

Those thrust into starting roles, and those used off the bench, proved the future is bright for the Ferns.

"I'm really happy with the result but also getting everyone out on court and the manner they performed out there," Taurua said of the 64-48 victory.

"One of the things we need to be mindful of is we are looking forward for the next four years but also the now. It's stressful sometimes to know you are going to make those changes but I couldn't be more proud of everybody who took the court.

"We knew this is the start for us and we'll get a feel as to how good or not we are. It's a great start and now we know what we need to work on. We haven't got some of those senior players but behind the scenes we've known we've got players who are ready to step up. It's a testament out there to know what they can do."

In the post Folau era Maia Wilson grabbed her 11th test by the scruff to nail 27/29 and combine brilliantly with new captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio under the hoop.

Maia Wilson. Photosport
Maia Wilson. Photosport

"Her numbers were amazing, the volume of her shots," Taurua said of the 21-year-old Wilson. "Her coming off Maria retiring is massive and a huge confidence boost for her."

Taurua made changes in every quarter yet even as England capitalised on New Zealand's repeat errors the Ferns regained composure to re-establish their dominance. Shannon Saunders was the sole squad member to play the full match, switching between centre and wing attack.


"I thought she was outstanding. She's like a fine wine. She thinks she's old but she's only 29 so she's a young buck but she's been around a very long time. She's coming into her own physically and mentally and knowing where her space is out on court. She had a very mature game and she was able to control the momentum."

Ekenasio, in her first test as captain, embraced the occasion.

"It definitely felt a bit different and I've been feeling into that role for the past week so getting out there tonight was an immense sense of pride," Ekenasio said. "It felt really special.

"I don't remember the last time we won that big over England so it definitely feels good but it's a good place to start and we can see what we can work on.

"It was good for us to start a new four-year cycle off like that and getting new girls blooded and giving everyone a good shot."

The only dampener for the Ferns came with news defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is heading home after rupturing her Achilles in training this week, leaving the squad one player short for the remainder of the tournament.

"She went home today and hopefully she'll have her operation as soon she gets back. It is unfortunate. She has been around the traps for a wee while and this was her opportunity so we'll get around and support her."

Jane Watson and Phoenix Karaka linked nicely here but that pairing, and Karin Burger at wing defence, will be tested in the Ferns next match against Jamaica, who defeated South Africa 59-54 after leading 33-28 at half time, in Birmingham on Thursday (NZT).

"The difficult thing for us against Jamaica is they've got the elevation game," Taurua said.

"The pressure we put on outside has to be huge otherwise they're going to bomb it in. There's things we did really well which I know will combat them but it's a totally different game."