Friday, May 22, 2009

Netball:Pressure on players to commit for Ferns

The national selectors are putting heat on players vying for a place in this year's Silver Ferns squad to declare their availability for the next two years.
With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner and the 2011 World Championships soon after, Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken said this year's squad would be selected with an eye towards those events.
Given there is just nine months in between the Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Championships, Aitken said yesterday there would be no time to rebuild between campaigns so she needed her players to make a firm commitment now.
"While obviously nothing is guaranteed in people's lives, we expect players who are making themselves available this year to be looking at being available for next year and the year after," said Aitken.
"It's a two-year commitment really, players need to be available for those two pinnacle events, not just this year. So that's what we're encouraging," said Aitken.
The selectors' stance adds further intrigue to just who will be putting their names forward to be considered for this year's squad, which will be named in July.
Several veterans have returned to the selection fold this year after taking time away from the national team for motherhood or personal reasons. But the idea of making a two-year commitment may deter them from signing up for national duties.
Former Silver Ferns skipper Adine Wilson and her Southern Steel teammate Donna Wilkins have already confirmed they aren't interested in making a comeback to the international arena.
New mum Jodi Brown and Temepara George are still mulling over possible Silver Ferns returns.
A couple of the incumbent Ferns may also need to reassess their international playing careers in light of the long-term commitment required.
Last year's captain Julie Seymour will be 40 by the time of the 2011 World Championships and given she has struggled with a couple of niggly injuries in the past 12 months, the veteran midcourter may opt to end her Silver Ferns playing days.
Likewise, Irene van Dyk, who turns 37 next month, may be pushing it to make it to the next World Championships, although the evergreen sharpshooter indicated earlier this year she had no plans to retire.
Aitken said players would need to declare through their ANZ Championship franchises in the next week or so whether they intended making themselves available for the national side.
(By Dana Johannsen )

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