Silver Ferns' shooting circle goes under scrutiny

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Maria Tutaia
Photosport
BAD RUN: Injury means Maria Tutaia has been a shadow of her once-illustrious self.

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If Bailey Mes and Malia Paseka aren't training right now, can someone send them a text?

Changes are likely in the Silver Ferns' shooting circle and coach Waimarama Taumaunu has nominated Mes and Paseka as the potential replacements.

Taumaunu's team produced a limp defence of their Commonwealth Games crown, particularly at the shooting end.

Injury left the jury out on Cathrine Latu's international shooting prowess, while Maria Tutaia was a shadow of her once-illustrious self for the same reason. But a tired Jodi Brown, plus rookie Ellen Halpenny, definitely left the door ajar for others following some faltering performances.

"In the cold light of day you can't win games when you shoot at around 70 per cent and we did that in our last three games," Taumaunu said yesterday.

New Zealand's defenders saved the side's blushes in the narrow wins over Jamaica and England, but couldn't win enough ball to keep the Silver Ferns competitive against Australia. The Diamonds streaked to a 58-40 win, which Taumaunu described as "discomforting and embarrassing".

Shooting percentages simply have to rise, she said, if the team has any hope of defeating Australia and England in test matches in October, then at next year's World Cup.

But the players have to be prepared to shoot as well. The Silver Ferns were guilty of passing or reluctantly hurling bricks when shots were on and that's not good enough at this level.

"No it's not," said Taumaunu.

"One of the things shooters have to be in the international game is courageous and fearless and, because things were getting tight, it's very difficult to remain so. That's something we have to keep working on, but it's not a skill that's easy or in long supply."

Or one that was particularly evident in all of the Silver Ferns shooters on show in Glasgow.

"I'm not going to debate selection. At the time we picked them they were the people that were shooting best," Taumaunu said.

The 12-strong Commonwealth Games squad are now on annual leave but will be among the 28 players assembled for September's Silver Ferns trials, which promise to be a lively affair.

"I'm pretty happy that we're going to have an opportunity to test people, particularly like Bailey and perhaps Malia, and put them in the mix on an even playing field and see what we look like then."

Taumaunu is still adamant the basis of a World Cup-winning team exists, especially given the unity displayed in difficult circumstances during the last week of the tournament.

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Defender Joline Henry suffered a family bereavement, as well as a bad finger injury, while the leg problems of Latu and Tutaia caused their own chaos. Then there were disruptions many of the mothers in the squad experienced, in the shape of ill or upset children.

"I would prefer never to have to manage a team through those injury issues again. The other side of the coin is remembering how proud I was of the group and how they came together and really recognised things were getting tough and that we had to pull together."

- The Dominion Post

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