Feeders key for Silver Ferns in Jamaica match

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Leana de Bruin
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BACK: Leana de Bruin has re-signed with the Magic.

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Having safely swatted away the Scots, Leana de Bruin has a more serious problem on her hands.

One-on-one assignments don't come any more difficult than defending shooter Jhaniele Fowler, which will probably fall to de Bruin when the Silver Ferns meet Jamaica in London on Saturday morning.

The 1.90-metre de Bruin will be giving away eight centimetres to Fowler, not to mention a bit of weight and reach as well. Fowler was a sensation in last year's trans-Tasman Netball League, leaving de Bruin and the rest of the defenders in the competition grasping at thin air, on her way to being named the competition's most valuable player.

De Bruin has seen most things during her 106-test career and her honest assessment of how to defend Fowler was basically not to bother.

"I don't know, jump? Yeah, I need to grow a few inches in the next few days," de Bruin said, following New Zealand's 63-26 win over Scotland in yesterday's exhibition game at Glasgow.

"We've got a few plans up our sleeves. The main thing is to get into the Jamaicans' heads and gain the ball before it actually gets to her and especially not to get too tight [on Fowler] and give the feeders a clear space they can see.

"So it's probably more working the feeders than it is worrying about her."

With captain, and regular goal defence, Casey Kopua travelling but not fit to play on this tour, de Bruin is very much New Zealand's senior defensive pro. Often in behind Kopua, at goal keep, de Bruin started yesterday's match against Scotland in the goal defence bib, before shifting to her more regular spot during the second quarter.

Given how adept de Bruin is at coming out and getting ball, it wouldn't be a shock to see her start at goal defence and be given a licence to attack everything, with Katrina Grant left to battle Fowler.

The Silver Ferns haven't been great in their 72-18 and 63-26 wins over Scotland, although that's largely a consequence of the many line-ups they fielded in both games.

"It's a work in progress, it's the start of the season and we just need time," said de Bruin.

"It's just things like trusting combinations and knowing how far you can push people with the ball. We've had a few newcomers and new combinations, so it's been great to get some gametime before the big tests [against Jamaica and England]."

There was a real emphasis on rotating attacking players yesterday, with Laura Langman, Millie Lees and Shannon Francois sharing the bulk of the feeding duties and shooters Irene van Dyk, Maria Tutaia, Cathrine Latu and Jodi Brown split up into various pairings.

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- Fairfax Media

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