Sentiment takes back seat despite de Bruin's 100th

TIGHT TUSSLE: Leana De Bruin (right) of the Silver Ferns takes possession with England's Pamela Cookey in close attendance.
TIGHT TUSSLE: Leana De Bruin (right) of the Silver Ferns takes possession with England's Pamela Cookey in close attendance.

Leana de Bruin never thought she would play for New Zealand, let alone play 100 tests.

But the 35-year-old defender is set to bring up that ton tomorrow night when the Silver Ferns play the Australian Diamonds in the final round of the Quad Series in Hamilton.

De Bruin played 34 times for South Africa before moving to New Zealand in 2002 and she is now one of this country's proven performers.

However, with competition intense at the Ferns' defensive end with Casey Williams and Katrina Grant also performing well, there's no guarantee of de Bruin bringing up the three figures at Claudelands Arena.

"I know, I know, it could be," de Bruin said, adding that coach Waimarama Taumaunu had given no indication whether she will get court time.

"It all just depends on what she wants and what she prefers to start [with]. She's not a person that gives too much away and you've just got to bring your A game to trainings and hope for the best.

"But at the end of the day it's just another game against the Aussies and the thing that I would hope [for] is a personal performance and then hopefully going out there and getting a win."

Taumaunu will not hand out any sentimental gifts with her team selection as she looks to end rotation and really target a victory in this match.

"We'll be looking to put [out] the most competitive line that we have," Taumaunu said.

"In saying that, particularly in the defensive end, we have a number of combinations, I think, that have proven themselves to be effective. So that will be as much about strategy as anything else.

"So we're going after this game and it's not going to be about giving people test experience on Thursday."

Taumaunu will decide on her starting lineup today and while saying "Leana's 100th won't be the driving factor" she acknowledged the player's good form.

She said the team was feeling the pinch towards the end of a long series and the players' training intensity had been monitored.

The Silver Ferns will be up for a rematch against Australia, who beat them by 20 goals in Sydney 10 days ago.

Taumaunu said disrupting the Diamonds' flow would be key.

"I think once they gather confidence then they are confident to spin the ball at pace, then they become really difficult."

De Bruin said the Ferns wanted to play with "that fire in our belly" that they knew they were capable of.

"In the Constellation Cup we were really good at not turning ball over, but we seem to have lost a bit of that . . . and just on defence, being in the right positions to attack the ball."

Waikato Times