After four weeks of being flogged by Silver Ferns trainer Stephen Hotter, Katrina Grant is almost eyeing the national trials with a sense of relief.
Twenty-five players assemble in Auckland on Monday for a four-day camp to select a squad of 12 to meet Australia in the first three tests of the season.
Australia name their squad today, having finished their trials in Canberra yesterday.
Grant is a certainty to make the New Zealand side, even if she won't say so. "It's definitely a trial and you've got to go and work your butt off because nothing's ever given to you as a player," Grant said.
"There's a little bit of nerves, but excitement as well because I've never been to a big Ferns trial with 25 people before."
Grant, the Central Pulse captain, will be joined at the trials by four of her franchise team-mates in Camilla Lees, Paula Griffin, Daya Wiffen and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit. Lees is the most likely to be picked alongside Grant in the eventual 12, now that her medical studies are almost complete.
Lees should graduate in November, having devoted herself to study at the expense of international netball in the last six years. There are some doubts about whether Lees is robust enough for trans-Tasman test netball, although they are not shared by Grant.
"I think she's ready but then I'm with Millie all the time and I see her training ethic and I know how good she is and how good she can be," she said.
"That girl is fit and she's just getting better and better with her movement and her vision and she's a great team person. You'd be happy to have her in any team you're in."
Grant will also be taking greater interest than usual in the composition of Australia's squad, given Pulse goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites is one of the triallists.
"I can't see why she can't make that team but the thing is, if she did make it, I'm not sure if that means she'll be able to come back to the Pulse or not.
"So you're kind of torn and you're like ‘hmm, what do we want to happen?'
"I mean I definitely want her to play for Australia. Representing your country is the pinnacle and the ultimate of our sport but if it means we're losing her from the Pulse then I'd be devastated."
Only coach Robyn Broughton has been re-signed by the Pulse for next year. Delays in the negotiation of the game's collective bargaining agreement mean none of New Zealand's franchises or players quite know where they stand.
Grant wants to be a Pulse player in 2013, but that is about all she can say on the matter.
She is happy that Broughton will be back, though.
"Hopefully that will encourage players to either stick around or want to come to our franchise, so I'm looking at it as a real positive.
"Hopefully we can just get a couple more players on our roster that can help us move up the ladder," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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