It's too early to say Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu is under pressure, but she does need a win or two.
Since succeeding Ruth Aitken as national coach, Taumaunu has had just three tests in charge and all were against Australia. The first, in Perth was won, before subsequent losses in Adelaide and Melbourne.
Taumaunu then took the reins of New Zealand's FastNet team, who were beaten in the World Netball Series final by England. Aitken, and then Robyn Broughton, led New Zealand to the title in the two previous years.
Come Sunday in Melbourne, Australia will be the Silver Ferns' opponents again, in the first of three Constellation Cup tests.
Taumaunu rejected a suggestion she could do with a series win to solidify her standing as coach.
"From a personal perspective, I don't approach netball thinking that things are about me anyway," Taumaunu said.
"So this is about the team, it's about the work that we've done, it's about our on-court performance reflecting what we've done and learning and getting better each time we go on the court.
"Those are the things that I'm going to demand."
But no actual wins. Australia, unfortunately, are too strong a foe against which to make demands like that.
"It would be important for us to establish a good foundation and that means that we play well. Now, I'm prepared to put up with the fact that if we play well, but the Australians are better at this stage, that we'll just have to live with that," Taumaunu said.
"For me it's the quality of our play and showing that the things that we've worked on in the last two weeks, and we've worked hard, are out there on display. I will be able to live with it if they're not on display for the full 60 minutes, at this stage."
It's an unenviable task playing Australia five times a year, as the Ferns will do during the Constellation Cup and then the Quad Series in which England and South Africa also join the fray. The Diamonds ties are the ones that matter, but so hard to win.
Australia's squad for this year has its usual formidable look about it, although their shooting is unlikely to be more accurate than what Irene van Dyk or Cathrine Latu are regularly capable of.
"Shooting accuracy's been something that New Zealand teams have prided themselves on for some time," Taumaunu said.
"Having said that, the range of our accurate shooting is probably not the same range as the likes of [Cath] Cox and [Erin] Bell and [Natalie] Medhurst . . . we don't underestimate the Australians' ability to be accurate as well."
From Melbourne, the series moves on to Auckland and then Christchurch.
Taumaunu would like the opportunity to use all 12 of her squad during that time, but would not say it was a given.
She also said that a couple of players on the "fringes" of the 12 might find themselves rotated out of the team during the Quad Series in favour of people from New Zealand's extended squad, made up of Julianna Naoupu, Grace Rasmussen, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Anna Thompson.
- © Fairfax NZ News