BRISBANE - The Silver Ferns showed that they were far from fatigued heading into the netball Tri Nations series in a quality 90-minute hit-out against the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane.

Coach Yvonne Willering emerged happy after giving all 12 members of her squad ample court time in a specially arranged, six-quarter match against one of the weaker Australian domestic league teams.

The game was closed to the public, and the final score was of little importance to Willering. She was more concerned that her players establish combinations ahead of their opening match against Australia in Melbourne tomorrow night.

The Ferns, who have no injury concerns, were to play the same opponents late last night (NZ time). They leave their Brisbane hideaway for Melbourne today and will watch the opening match of the tournament between Australia and South Africa tonight.

Following their match against Australia, the Silver Ferns face South Africa in Canberra on Tuesday and again in Sydney on Friday.

The final match of the series is against Australia in Sydney on June 16.

Australian coach Jill McIntosh said last night that the series would lose credibility if South Africa produced another weak performance.

South Africa will start overwhelming underdogs in the opening game against Australia and are unlikely to come close to either them or New Zealand in any of their four matches.

At the inaugural series in South Africa last year, the hosts lost each match by an average of more than 50 points, leaving McIntosh concerned.

She said: "You don't want two sides fighting it out, you want the third one up there, too, so each game is very competitive. They've got a few new faces in their team, so they're going to be a bit of an unknown this time."

South African netball is taking steps to improve its standing. They are ranked fifth following the world championships.