Ameliaranne Wells fast tracked for trials

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014
Ameliaranne Wells
CROSSING THE DITCH: Ameliaranne Wells is swapping a Queensland Firebirds dress for a Central Pulse one.

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It was now or never with Ameliaranne Wells.

The haste with which the former Australian age-group shooter has been invited into the Silver Ferns fold might seem indecent to some.

But if the 23-year-old Queensland Firebirds goal attack wasn't roped in for next month's national trials in Auckland, it would be another year until she could be assessed again.

''I had to be [quick off the mark] because there's not enough time after [the] ANZ [Championship] next year. So we've got the opportunity and we've got to do it now,'' Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu said.

Wells is a born and bred Queenslander, who qualifies for the Silver Ferns by virtue of having a New Zealand father.

That eligibility was news to Taumaunu until the recent Commonwealth Games when the Firebirds' Jamaican shooter Romelda Aiken mentioned Wells was off to Wellington to play for the Central Pulse next year, as a local player.

The Silver Ferns' assistant coach Vicki Wilson is, like Wells, based in Brisbane and was familiar with the shooter's play

Those insights were enough to convince Taumaunu that Wells might be worth a punt and now established members of the New Zealand shooting scene such as Jodi Brown, Ellen Halpenny, Bailey Mes and Malia Paseka have a new rival to contend with.

''She's tall, about 1.86 [metres], which is the same level as Maria [Tutaia]. She is an accurate shooter and she puts up a lot of shots, so her volume's quite high. From the little bit I've seen, she does seem quite confident,'' said Taumaunu of Wells.

Mes is the other shooter Taumaunu relishes seeing at the trials, having very clearly stated that New Zealand's per centages at the Commonwealth Games were unacceptably poor.

The shooters didn't present well for the ball either, with feeders often having to re-load because they had no-one to pass to.

For that reason, Taumaunu said she was also interested to see how the shooters might connect with midcourters Millie Lees, Grace Rasmussen and Courtney Tairi, who all missed selection for Glasgow.

Twenty-six players have been invited to the five-day camp, after which 18 will be named on the New Zealand contract list for the next 12 months. Of those 18, 12 will also be announced in the Constellation Cup squad to meet Australia.

Come the end of next August's World Cup in Sydney, few Silver Ferns incumbents will still be available for selection.

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Retirements are inevitable and Taumaunu said the tender age of many in the 26 asked to attend trials reflected the imminent need to overhaul the squad. Her only question is whether it might be better to regenerate well before the World Cup?

Taumaunu said it was ''very realistic'' that youngsters could make the squad of 18, particularly teenaged defenders Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jamie-Lee Price.

''To make the final 12 for a series against Australia I think they would have to be absolutely outstanding [at the trials] but anything's possible.

"Going forward we've got [a series against] England, we've also got a couple of New Zealand A games so there are lots of opportunities for those youngsters and I'm looking forward to seeing them take them,'' she said.

HOW THEY LINE UP

Silver Ferns triallists for September 15-19 camp in Auckland: Jodi Brown, Leana de Bruin, Katarina Cooper, Kayla Cullen, Temalisi Fakahokotau, Shannon Francois, Katrina Grant, Ellen Halpenny, Joline Henry, Phoenix Karaka, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman, Cathrine Latu, Camilla Lees, Liana Leota, Bailey Mes, Erena Mikaere, Malia Paseka, Jamie-Lee Price, Grace Rasmussen, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Courtney Tairi, Anna Thompson, Jo Trip, Maria Tutaia, Ameliaranne Wells.

- The Dominion Post

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