Ferns seek key to beating Aussies in Glasgow

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014
Joline Henry
Getty Images
GET ON WITH IT: Silver Ferns wing defence Joline Henry wants her team to play better and talk less.

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Joline Henry was talking about the Silver Ferns, but the comment was just as applicable to her other team.

Neither the Ferns, nor Henry's Central Pulse, have been much chop against Australian opposition lately.

New Zealand have lost their last four encounters with the Diamonds, while the less said about the Pulse's performances across the Tasman this year, the better.

The Silver Ferns are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to discover a means by which to beat Australia when they inevitably meet in the Commonwealth Games final, in just under a month's time. Everyone's got a theory about what needs to be done better - including Henry.

"Sometimes we have a tendency to over-analyse and we just need to get out there and play," Henry said from Ferns camp this week.

Henry, and her attitude, will be critical to the success of the Silver Ferns in Glasgow. Of their 12-strong squad, she, Casey Kopua, Leana de Bruin, Anna Harrison, Laura Langman and Maria Tutaia have the mentality and track record to suggest they will cope with what Australia throw at them.

The six other Silver Ferns still need to prove they can beat the Diamonds at their own game.

"Australians are really good at giving you the ball where you don't want it and then they have that three-foot mark in front of you, so there's an accumulated pressure that's causing us to make errors," Henry said.

"We're the type of players who like to play free-flowing netball, with lots of flair, and the type of style that's been really successful against us is that stop-start stuff. For us, it's about building the belief that we can do both and appreciating that sort of netball, rather than trying to strive for pretty netball all the time because that's not going to win you a gold medal match."

It only takes one or two team-mates to settle for short cuts against Australian opposition and you're done, as Henry saw with the Pulse this year.

"I definitely don't like getting over the ditch and getting thumped - I find that quite demoralising," she said.

"That was a very timely reminder of the style of netball they play, what they're prepared to do to get the ball and what they're prepared to do to win. The stakes have been raised now and this is as big as it gets for us.

"It's a Commonwealth Games gold medal we're competing for, you only get one shot and you have to put it all out there."

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To hear Henry talk about the challenge confronting the Silver Ferns, you do begin to wonder how the heck they'll defend a title they've held since 2006. They definitely possess the skills, but it will all come down to whether they have the mental wherewithal to execute those under pressure.

"But just imagine how sweet it will be. That's the carrot that's dangling in front of us."

- The Dominion Post

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