Anna Harrison hopes to make Netball World Cup
The Silver Ferns expect Anna Harrison back on court in time for next year's Netball World Cup.
The 31-year-old defender is due to give birth to her second child in February and announced yesterday that she'll be unavailable for the rest of New Zealand's 2014 test programme.
The World Cup begins in Sydney on August 7, so time will be tight.
But after midcourter Liana Leota returned for the recent Commonwealth Games, having had her third child in February this year, the assumption within the team is that Harrison would be capable of similar.
It's understood Harrison's announcement was something of a surprise, after all 12 of the Commonwealth Games squad told coach Waimarama Taumaunu they had no plans to take a break from netball between now and next August.
But Taumaunu has always taken a realistic view of the life women have away from netball and, while, disappointed to be without Harrison for October's tests against Australia and England, wished the former beach volleyballer all the best.
In the short-term at least, Harrison's absence creates an opportunity for, arguably, New Zealand's most explosive and dynamic player Kayla Cullen, who has been out of netball since rupturing knee ligaments a year ago.
She was close to returning to action at the tailend of the Northern Mystics' season, before having to accept she still wasn't fit enough.
But Cullen is back in full training and expected to attend next month's national trials, where she'll pick up the wing defence and goal defence bibs Harrison has worn.
The other potential beneficiary of Harrison's pregnancy is another Mystic: Temalisi Fakahokotau.
Defence remains the Silver Ferns' strong suit, with Leana de Bruin, Casey Kopua and Katrina Grant sharing the circle duties and Joline Henry dominant out on the wing.
But Cullen is a special player, capable of eventually taking Henry's spot or even making a fulltime conversion to centre.
Taumaunu has said she'll assemble between 24 and 28 players for next month's trials, where a big emphasis will be placed on the shooting circles.
The coach has just had Queensland Firebirds player Amelia Wells land in her lap but, at this stage, the former Australian age-group shooter is not expected to be among the trialists.
The Dominion Post