Silver Fern puts family ahead of Comm Games

EXPERIENCED: Jodi Brown will join the Southern Steel for the 2012 season.
EXPERIENCED: Jodi Brown will join the Southern Steel for the 2012 season.

Jodi Brown has chosen family over a long-held dream of playing for the Silver Ferns at the Commonwealth Games.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic netballer made herself unavailable for the Silver Ferns squad at the 11th hour with her name missing when the squad was announced this morning.

After being heartbreakingly ruled out of the 2006 Commonwealth Games on the eve of the event because of injury, Brown had made no secret of the fact she was desperate to compete in New Delhi in October.

But after, what she says was, a gruelling season with the Magic, another four months away from 19-month-old daughter Kiana and husband Markham would have been too much.

Brown commuted to the Magic's Hamilton and Tauranga trainings and their games from Dunedin all season and said it had become tougher asking people to look after her young daughter.

"My family and my extended family have given up so much for me to play for Magic," she said.

"And I've really enjoyed that, but I don't think I could do another four months justice, well it's actually a couple of years because you have to commit through to the end of the World Champs next year."

The Waikato Times understands had she not ruled herself out of contention, Brown would have been picked today and was comfortably in the running for one of the 12 spots to New Delhi.

"It's pretty hard, that's why it's taken so much time to make the decision." she said. "There's been lots of tears shed."

Brown said her husband had wanted her to continue and the couple had argued about the decision, but the 28-time Silver Fern was sure she'd made the right call.

"He knows the Commonwealth Games are a once in a lifetime opportunity, he knew we could make it work, but that's how nice he is. It's time for me to give something back to him now."

The tough call does not mean retirement for the 29-year-old, however.

"I still hope to be part of the Magic next year," she said.

"I really enjoy the competition and if the Magic will have me, I'd like to be there."

Brown is not the only regular name missing with Paula Griffin, a squad member for the past four years who turned 22 on Sunday, deciding to take a break from the sport.

Northern Mystics defender Larrissa Willcox, a newcomer to the Silver Ferns last year, has also missed out on the squad.

However, the squad features the return of Anna Scarlett.

The 1.87m tall Scarlett has not played since walking away from the Silver Ferns in 2007 - after missing out on the team to play at the world championships - to contest the international beach volleyball tour.

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.

"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 in an interview last month.

The squad will attend a selection camp in Auckland on July 26-28 before Aitken names a 12-strong team for internationals against Australia, Jamaica and Samoa next month.

The squad named today included a couple of players who will not be in contention for a spot in those 12.

Goal shoot Cathrine Latu, in superb form for Northern Mystics this season in the trans-Tasman league, has again been named to trial, but is not available for the Silver Ferns until August next year, after playing for Samoa in the 2007 world championship.

As well, Pulse midcourter Millies Lees will also trial, but is not available for New Zealand until November when she has finished her studies.

The Silver Ferns programme starts on August 7 against Samoa in Porirua, north of Wellington, then takes in tests against Jamaica in Christchurch and Napier.

They travel to Adelaide on August 29 for the first of three tests against Australia, with others following in Wellington and Auckland in early September.

Triallists are: Liana Barrett-Chase (Steel), Leana de Bruin (Steel), Temepara George (Mystics), Katrina Grant (Pulse), Joline Henry (Mystics), Charlotte Kight (Tactix), Laura Langman (Magic), Cathrine Latu (Mystics), Grace Rasmussen (Mystics), Anna Scarlett (Auckland-Waitakere), Anna Thompson (Tactix), Maria Tutaia (Mystics), Irene van Dyk (Magic), Casey Williams (Magic), Daneka Wipiiti (Steel).

Camilla Lees (Pulse) is unavailable until November due to medical studies, while Wendy Frew (Steel) is unavailable for trials due to shoulder surgery.

-with NZPA

BACK IN: Anna Scarlett has been included in a 15-strong Silver Ferns squad to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
BACK IN: Anna Scarlett has been included in a 15-strong Silver Ferns squad to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.

Waikato Times