Moment of youth for Silver Ferns vs Aussies
The Silver Ferns will start their season in Melbourne next weekend against a familiar foe, but less familiar will be the players running out on court.
The retirement of Temepara George, the departure of Liana Leota to England and Joline Henry's pregnancy has seen an overhaul in the midcourt ahead of the first Constellation Cup game next Sunday.
Vice-captain Laura Langman is joined by surprise newcomer Bailey Mes, Kayla Cullen and Camilla Lees in the new midcourt.
Coach Wai Taumaunu said it was too early to throw Mes in the mix, leaving the likely combination of Langman at centre, Lees at wing attack and Cullen at wing defence to face the imposing Australians.
'It's a very different midcourt,' Taumaunu said. 'Temepara and Liana had real strengths that we are not able to replicate at this stage in terms of speed and their movement around the court.
'There are no concerns about the potential and ability of this group. They are young and they might get exposed but I'm very confident they'll learn and move on.'
But what the midcourt lacks in experience they make up for in versatility, with every player capable of playing multiple positions.
Langman and Lees are interchangeable at centre and wing attack, Cullen can play just about any position on the court and there is also the possibility of bringing Anna Harrison in for some X-factor at wing defence.
'I think that's probably what the strength of this new lot of midcourters is,' Langman said. 'We're very versatile. There's been a lot of switching in training and it'll be good to keep the opposition guessing.
'The biggest challenge is that you're playing the best Australians all in one team.
"That's going to be the challenge for us particularly in the midcourt.'
While "potential" may be the operative word when describing the current midcourt, Langman is confident her new gang can stand up to the more experienced Diamonds.
'When you come up against the Australians, if you make an error they're going to make you pay for it," Langman said. "We've covered a lot in a very short time frame but it's all inputted hopefully.
'We have the unknown factor, so to speak.'