Scarlett ready to do the hard yards

Last updated 18:36 16/06/2010

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Former Silver Ferns defender Anna Scarlett expects no favours as she plots her return to international netball.

A disillusioned and bitterly disappointed Scarlett left the sport after missing out on the New Zealand team to contest the 2007 world championships in Auckland. Instead, the 1.87m Scarlett paired up with Susan Blundell on the international beach volleyball circuit, with a view to securing a spot at the 2012 London Olympics.

Today, Scarlett admitted that nearly three years on the world tour had taken their toll.

"It's a very different lifestyle, a pretty hard grind. It requires a lot of commitment and time away from New Zealand, and I've always been a bit of a home girl," she told NZPA today.

The decision to return to netball hadn't been taken lightly, Scarlett added, and said she was well aware there would be no guarantees about returning to the New Zealand team.

"I'm definitely keen to get back in the Silver Ferns. Obviously, any athlete that gets dropped for the world championships isn't going to be happy about it," she said.

"But there was nothing personal there. There was disappointment, and I will forever think I should have been in that team. But that's part of the arrogance that makes me who I am.

"I really want to make it back, but I'm quite willing to earn my stripes to do that again. I'm not expecting anything."

Scarlett said there was a lot she wouldn't miss about the beach volleyball tour -- living out of a suitcase, endless hotel rooms, unpalatable food, unpredictable training schedules -- but she had given it everything for nearly three years, and felt it was time to reassess her priorities.

"I'm really excited about netball and what I can bring to my game from what I've learnt from volleyball.

"I've learnt a lot about how I function, and I think I've got more maturity of what it takes to be a top level athlete and how to make things work. It's exciting."

She said no decision had been made on which franchise she might join in next year's trans-Tasman netball league, nearing the end of the 2010 season with playoffs just a week away.

"The ANZ championship has certainly added to the excitement of returning -- the thought of playing Australia every other week is very exciting. I'll look at my options and pick the one that feels the best."

Northern Mystics coach Te Aroha Keenan said the Auckland-based franchise would be very interested in securing Scarlett's signature.

"I'm sure every franchise in New Zealand will be interested in having her skills, we'll definitely be in the hunt for her."

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Scarlett, 27, earned 39 caps for New Zealand and was part of the team which won gold in beating Australia at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand coach Ruth Aitken, who dropped Scarlett for the world championships the following year, said her return was good news for New Zealand.

"She's an experienced player, and a welcome addition to the talent pool," she told NZPA today.

Aitken said Scarlett had maintained regular contact with Netball New Zealand during her 2-1/2 years away from the sport, and had kept her informed of her decision to return.

"We'll need to sit down together soon, and look at where to from here, where she's at in terms of her netball and whether she want so be involved this year, or wait until next year.

"She hasn't played a lot of netball this year, so there's a bit of a question mark about where she's at."

Aitken said Scarlett had kept her hand in last year, turning out for Auckland-Waitakere in the national provincial championships, but would be something of an unknown in terms of more recent competition.

The national selectors will name a squad at the end of the trans-Tasman league on July 12, and a trial camp will be held at the end of July before the team to play Samoa, Jamaica and Australian in August and September is announced.

- NZPA

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