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Van Dyk and de Bruin still keen to compete

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 03/11/2012
Irene van Dyk
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
PAIN BARRIER: Irene van Dyk at Silver Ferns training.
Leana De Bruin
Bruce Mercer/Fairfax NZ
CENTURION: Silver Ferns' defender Leana De Bruin reaches out to intercept a pass.

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Netball

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Captain Casey Williams remains a bit of a series-by-series proposition, but Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu has locked Leana de Bruin and Irene van Dyk in for the long haul.

The end of any international season is often a time for reflection and Taumaunu's are that de Bruin and van Dyk will probably still be first-choice players come the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow.

Van Dyk will be 42 by then, and de Bruin 37, but Taumaunu sees no reason why both won't help New Zealand defend their gold medal and then seek the world title the following year.

This year's Constellation Cup and Quad Series were about building greater depth within the Silver Ferns. That was largely achieved, but at goal shoot and goal keep, at least, it still seems as though van Dyk and de Bruin are without peer.

"Irene says she can and she wants to and so does Leana and I have learnt over the course of the last few years to never underestimate those two," Taumaunu said.

"I guess, with their age, those are the two that you would be suspicious of.

"But if you are familiar with how hard they train and how hard-headed they are full stop, then you have to think: ‘if they say that's what they want to do and that's what they're going to do', then they tend to do it.

"If they continue to play as they are you'd have to pick them. They will make it very difficult for someone to come and take their place."

It's hoped that Williams, who formed such an effective defensive-circle partnership with de Bruin in Thursday night's 48-43 win over Australia, will be similarly ensconced in the team. But the leg problems that have blighted her recently continue to be a concern. "It'll be a matter of managing her as well as we can," Taumaunu said.

Elsewhere, the development of people like Camilla Lees, Kayla Cullen and Shannon Francois, plus the likely return of Joline Henry (pregnancy) and Courtney Tairi (injury), mean Taumaunu is satisfied that the midcourt might not be the problem she first suspected.

She's less content with shooter Cathrine Latu, though. Playing for the Northern Mystics with Maria Tutaia had got Latu into the habit of rarely straying from the post and, while that was fine at franchise level, international netball requires a broader range of skills.

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It's not for Taumaunu to tell the Mystics how to play, but she would definitely relish seeing Latu come out to the edge of the circle and look to feed or shoot from there.

In the meantime, there's a Fast5 World Series for the majority of the Silver Ferns to negotiate. They will assemble in Auckland on Wednesday where, apart from learning the rules, Taumaunu wants the team to have a bit of fun at the six-nation tournament.

- Wellington

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