Talented Southern Steel netballer Phoenix Karaka has been elevated into the Silver Ferns team of 12 as the players prepare to embark on their first tour of 2014.
The Southern Steel defender was initially named as one of four training partners to accompany the Silver Ferns on their United Kingdom tour this week and her promotion into the team comes at the expense of Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua, who continues to recover from scheduled ankle surgery last month.
Kopua will tour with the team as a training partner to enable the ankle to fully recover in what is going to be a busy netball season ahead.
Netball New Zealand's medical team is confident Kopua will make a full recovery and needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation before taking on the rigours of a competitive match. In such a pinnacle year - which includes the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - the medical team is being cautious not to rush Kopua and is happy for her to travel and train with the team on the five-match tour.
Laura Langman will now be the on-court captain for the Ferns.
Karaka was a key part of the New Zealand under-21 team that won the World Youth Netball Championship in Glasgow last year and is in the New Zealand Accelerant Squad. The 20-year old plays for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in the ANZ Championship.
The Silver Ferns team: Laura Langman (on-court captain), Jodi Brown, Leana de Bruin, Shannon Francois, Katrina Grant, Joline Henry, Phoenix Karaka, Cathrine Latu, Camilla Lees, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Maria Tutaia, Irene van Dyk.
Training partners: Casey Kopua, Bailey Mes, Malia Paseka, Courtney Tairi.
- The Southland Times