'Patchy' Silver Ferns have plenty more to give after series win over England Roses
As the Silver Ferns move into the final phase of their year, their coach believes they've still got a lot more to give.
They wrapped up the Taini Jamison Trophy on Wednesday night in Hamilton, beating the England Roses 62-55 at Claudelands Arena to take the hotly-contested series 2-1.
And while Janine Southby was glad that they had received a good challenge, from an opponent that hasn't tended to present one int the past, she also knows her side were well below their best.
"It's been patchy, and that's a concern," she said.
"The fact that we have good quarters, and then we drop off in a quarter, or we're in the lead, and then we let it go and we end up losing games - that's certainly a worry from my point of view. We've got to tidy that stuff up."
Just around the corner is the Constellation Cup, which consists of four tests against the Australian Diamonds, starting on October 5 in Auckland, then continuing in Christchurch, Adelaide, and Sydney.
It's a series the Silver Ferns haven't won since 2012 - they drew 2-2 in 2015 but lost on goal difference - and Southby said their battles with England would stand them in good stead heading into it.
"The fact that a lot of them play in the Australian competition [means] that they've adopted the Australian style, and I think they've always been a lot closer to that style than us and any other team you play against, so that's been great preparation for us.
"The girls said, to be honest, they felt the English were more physical than the Australians, having played them recently."
Southby will name her squad for the Constellation Cup on Friday, and she will have some tough calls to make, especially in midcourt and defence.
But as she sees it, having to make those calls means the team is in a good place.
"We've been banging on about building depth, and that's been one of the things for these past couple of series," said Southby.
"We're in that position now where we've actually got genuine contenders and the tough part is leaving players out who actually deserve to be there, because they've been putting their hands up, and that's a great place to be in as a coach, but I feel for the players, because it doesn't come down to them in the end."
Australia have made one notable change to their squad from the one that lost to the Silver Ferns in the Quad Series decider in Invercargill two weeks ago, bringing in Caitlyn Nevins in place of Madi Robinson.
Southby said she wasn't sure what to make of that move, and that there would be plenty of foxing by both teams in the buildup to the Commonwealth Games next April.
"I think until you actually get to the Comm Games, you're not going to know who's going to be there. Whether they feel that they needed to make a change because people weren't performing, or have a look at building depth, I'm not sure. I guess it's interesting.
"I think they potentially took us too easy in that game in Invercargill and I know going forward that won't happen. They will have woken up to that and in our experience of doing this to them, they'll come back with a real roar.
"The big thing for us is making sure we get better and do what we need to and we're really prepared for when it hits us."
- Audio courtesy RNZ