Canterbury may lose duo to Silver Ferns
Canterbury netball coach Tania Hoffman will be waiting as nervously as anyone to see who is named in the Silver Ferns squad when it is announced on Monday.
Hoffman's own Canterbury squad for the national provincial tournament beginning next month was released yesterday, but experienced pair Anna Thompson and Keshia Grant have a theoretical asterisk next to their names.
If Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu chooses either Thompson or Grant - or both - to fill her gaping midcourt gap, the two-time title-defending Canterbury side will be without a big chunk of experience.
Thompson has been named as Hoffman's captain.
While Hoffman is confident her side will again be competitive and a good chance at adding a third straight title to their trophy cabinet, the potential loss of Grant and or Thompson could be huge.
Missing from last season's triumph already are Maree Bowden, Anna Galvan and Charlotte Kight.
But, as Hoffman was quick to point out, they do have just one rookie in Elizabeth Hayman and their gulf in experience has been partially filled by Bessie Manu and Grant should she remain available.
St Nicholas midcourter and former Canterbury Flames player Hannah Brand returns to the side.
Tactix midcourter Kiley Hikawai has made herself unavailable for personal reasons.
Canterbury this year have the advantage of home games in the Christchurch area.
They had to play their home fixtures in Timaru last season, but will open this year's campaign in Lincoln against Bay of Plenty.
Their third-round game is against the newly promoted Waikato side at Christchurch's Pioneer Stadium.
Canterbury team: Anna Thompson (c), Hannah Brand, Sophia Fenwick, Keshia Grant, Ellen Halpenny, Elizabeth Hayman, Gemma Hazeldine, Bessie Manu, Jo Trip, Jane Watson. Coach - Tania Hoffman. Assistant coach - Helen Bryant. Manager - Clare Kissick.
Draw: Round 1 - Canterbury v Bay of Plenty, Lincoln Events Centre September 2. Round 2 - Canterbury v Wellington, Wellington September 9. Round 3 - Canterbury v Waikato, Pioneer Stadium September 16. Round 4 - Canterbury v Otago, Dunedin September 23. Round 5 - Canterbury v Auckland-Waitakere, Tauranga October 3. Semifinals and final, Tauranga October 4/5.