New Fast5 tournament set to alter netball

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 14:00 26/09/2012

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Versatility and fitness were key factors in the Silver Ferns 10-strong squad for the revolutionary Fast5 international netball tournament which will be held in Auckland in November.

Fast5 is netball's equivalent of Rugby Sevens - an abbreviated format designed to dramatically alter the style and tactics of the game.

Power plays, rolling subs and the ability to nail two and three point shots from outside the circle add different dimensions.   

The new five-a-side tournament, featuring 20 games from the six best international teams over three days, has been given a huge vote of confidence with the government, in partnership with Auckland council, investing $600,000 over the next three years.

Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu today unveiled her squad with Mystics shooter Cathrine Latu the major omission.

Long-bomb specialist Maria Tutaia, veteran Irene van Dyk and Canterbury's Anna Thompson are the three shooters, Laura Langman, Kayla Cullen and the uncapped Bailey Mes got the nod in the midcourt while Leana de Bruin, Anna Harrison, Casey Williams and Katrina Grant make up the defensive foursome.

Latu was the most accurate shooter in the trans-Tasman competition with 97 percent this season, but she is most comfortable under the hoop. Van Dyk plays a similar style and there was not room for both in the squad.  

Taumaunu said the ability to shoot long and last four frantic six-minute quarters were important considerations in her selections. The conditioning of her players would be tested.

"She loves long shots," Taumaunu said of Tutaia. "Anna Thompson is also pretty good at them. That's why she's in there. To be fair Irene has thrown a few in her day."

Cullen is an example of the versatility needed in this arena. She can cover all sections of the court.

"With four players missing the court it is going to be very open. You're going to need to be very fit. It's a bity like Sevens," Cullen said.

SILVER FERNS SQUAD

Shooters: Maria Tutaia, Irene van Dyk, Anna Thompson
Midcourt: Laura Langman, Kayla Cullen, Bailey Mes
Defence: Leana de Bruin, Anna Harrison, Casey Williams, Katrina Grant

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- Fairfax Media

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