Tests the focus but Fast5 still high on list

NICOLA ABERCROMBIE
Last updated 06:47 09/11/2012
Irene van Dyk
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
ADDED PRESSURE: Irene van Dyk attempts a three-pointer with Leana de Bruin and Laura Langman marking her.

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The Fast5 Ferns plan on having a bit of a fun as they chase the inaugural Fast5 World Series title in Auckland this weekend.

It's no secret that tests are the jewel in the international netball crown and the five-aside tournament is, at this stage, a bit player on the netball calendar.

While New Zealand has named an almost full strength side, Australia appears to be taking a more casual approach by opting to field a development team, with only two fringe members of the test side included.

Despite a long trans-Tasman and test season, the Ferns insist they're out to give their home crowd something to cheer about.

"We're definitely taking this seriously, it's just a different format," said sharp shooter Irene van Dyk.

"We don't know how it's going to pan out but we're definitely going out to win. If it's going to work we don't know, we don't know how the game plan is going to work so it is quite a different situation for us."

Coach Wai Taumaunu said as part of a national side, the players were always out to perform at the highest level.

"We're serious about playing well but it's a new game so we're much more focused on what the rules are and how we're going to play it and what our strategies are going to be.

"We won the inaugural [FastNet] in England and that was a lot of fun. I think we played Jamaica in that final and I have to say when it comes to a final, things get pretty serious."

The new format, played at a much quicker pace, also offers up some room for experimentation, with three-point shots and powerplays making for an exciting change.

"It's a little bit different and we all just can't wait to play something new and exciting," said Kayla Cullen.

"It's a really fun game, we're trying to get the crowd involved with dressing up like the [Wellington] Sevens. It would be cool to have something like that for netball."

While New Zealand has won three of four FastNet world titles, losing last year to England in the final, Taumaunu said the new rules mean there are no sure bets.

"The South Africans have got very good long range shooters, I don't know Malawi well enough to be able to say anything on them but certainly those are the lowest ranked teams. But in a powerplay with the ability of scoring 6 points off one shot it does narrow the certainty of who might win this.

"The Jamaicans are very athletic and perhaps fresher than us too. I think the rules will allow the lower ranked teams to come in and score an unexpected win, which in test netball is becoming increasingly rare these days."

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With action underway from 5pm tonight, van Dyk said fans can expect a style of netball they've never seen before.

"It's going to be a lot of flare, a lot of running and a lot of trying to outwit one another. It's going to be exciting."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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