Plenty of work for duo before they make Ferns
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's Julianna Naoupu and Elias Shadrock have been told to strengthen their bodies before they receive a Silver Ferns debut.
The duo were yesterday left out of the national squad of 12 for next month's Constellation Cup series against Australia, with Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu instead opting for veteran Southern Steel shooter Jodi Brown and surprising everyone with an absolute bolter in the form of Bailey Mes from the Northern Mystics.
After producing the goods for the Magic in their ANZ Championship title win this season, Naoupu and Shadrock had a decent shot of making the cut following last week's trial in Auckland which involved 25 players.
However, Naoupu has been named in an extended 16-strong Ferns squad, with those additional players likely to play some part in the later Quad Series, while Shadrock is one of four players named in the National Accelerant Squad.
Naoupustruggles with patella tendinitis in her knees and last year was forced to opt for a blood injection or face the prospect of quitting netball.
That first injection worked well, with Naoupu one of few who had responded well to the treatment.
However, her knees are playing up again and she will have another blood injection in Hamilton today and a further one in a month's time to try to solve the problem, which has a family history.
"My dad has them, and then my two older brothers have them, my sister's done her ACL twice, so I'm hoping not to do that," she said.
"It runs in the family and it's nothing I can get away from.
"It's one of those things where they [Netball New Zealand] have to monitor me. I don't really like being called precious but that's the term that comes across."
Taumaunu said they were taking a long-term view of Naoupu and they had been very impressed with her form in the crucial games for the Magic.
"She's a great playmaker and she's certainly a prospect for the future. But our view, led by the medics at this stage, is that we'd rather get her physically absolutely right and perhaps try and get her on in one of the later international parts of this programme."
Shadrock's omission was a bit less clear cut, with the midcourt the hardest area of choice for Taumaunu and her fellow selectors.
"I had a good chat with Elias; she was an impressive young woman," Taumaunu said. "[She's] just not quite ready, needs a little bit more experience, but I'm sure that will come."
Shadrock said Taumaunu told her she was pretty happy with her court game but to get stronger.
"My core muscles and my butt muscles need a little more strengthening so a lot more gym work and conditioning," said Shadrock, adding she was disappointed to miss out on any team, but happy to be involved in the accelerant squad, with those players regularly monitored and meeting with Taumaunu.
Meanwhile, Mes, 23, has been with the Mystics for the last three seasons and played just 28 minutes this season.
She has played as a shooter previously but is going to be used as a wing attack option for New Zealand, with her chances limited at the Mystics behind Temepara George and Jade Clarke.
"She drew the collective eyes of the selectors actually on the Monday when we went through a range of fitness and conditioning tests and she was in the top three or four of all of those," Taumaunu said. "She's very aerobically well-conditioned, she stands 186cm and she can jump close to 60cm on top of that. So she's very hard to stop for some of the smaller midcourters."
The Silver Ferns regroup next week for the first of two training camps ahead of the three-test series against the Diamonds, which starts in Melbourne on September 16.
Silver Ferns squad for Constellation Cup
Shooters: Irene van Dyk, Maria Tutaia, Cathrine Latu, Jodi Brown
Midcourters: Laura Langman (vice-captain), Camilla Lees, Bailey Mes, Kayla Cullen
Defenders: Leana de Bruin, Katrina Grant, Anna Harrison, Casey Williams (captain)
2012/13 Silver Ferns squad: Aforementioned 12 plus Julianna Naoupu, Grace Rasmussen, Anna Thompson, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit
National Accelerant Squad: Ellen Halpenny, Elias Shadrock, Jess Moulds, Shannon Francois