'Hotts' turns up heat on Silver Fern Millie Lees

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013
Millie Lees
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ON THE MEND: Millie Lees is back on her feet following surgery.

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Tom Latham might have been on his way to his highest first-class score, but it was events beyond the midwicket boundary that he seemed most interested in.

A Plunket Shield cricket match between Wellington and Latham's Canterbury was certainly an unlikely venue for a Silver Ferns netballer to be proving her fitness, but there was Millie Lees hustling between cones at Karori Park.

As the game meandered towards stumps on its first day, Latham wasn't the only player whose gaze turned towards Lees.

Out of the game since suffering a stress fracture in her foot during a national training camp in September, the Central Pulse midcourter was confined to a moon boot for six weeks.

The fracture's now sufficiently healed that the only thing that could keep her out of New Zealand's two-test tour to England next month is a lack of conditioning.

So under the instruction of Silver Ferns trainer Stephen Hotter, who also trains the Firebirds' cricketers, Lees was making sure she'll be right to fly out with the Ferns on January 9.

The 24-year-old definitely looked in good nick, but said there was a vast difference between appearances and what's required on the international netball court.

Which is where Hotter and the, seemingly, endless shuttle running at Karori Park came in.

"Since my injury I've said to Stephen I'll never complain about running again, because when I was in my moon boot and I was sitting on the couch I was thinking 'oh I really just want to go for a run'. But no, there are days that we despise Hotts," a laughing Lees said of the work Hotter has put her though lately.

She said the daily sessions were a necessary evil, but that she wouldn't know how successful they'd been until she assembled with the full squad on January 8.

Lees has done some light ball work with fellow Wellington-based Silver Ferns Irene van Dyk, Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit in the past few days, having not been able to take part in this month's two Pulse camps.

"I went to [Pulse] training and watched and did some passing and kept in the loop but I haven't done any real netball-specific stuff yet," she said.

"We're quietly confident that it [the fracture] has healed but I just have to be careful that if I ever get a twinge or feel pain that we just pull back a bit."

The Silver Ferns play exhibition matches against Scotland on January 12 and 14 in Glasgow, the team familiarise themselves with the surrounding venue for the Commonwealth Games in July-August.

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From there it's down to London for tests against Jamaica (January 17) and England (January 20), before a final exhibition against England A on January 21.

- The Dominion Post

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