Silver Ferns defender Kelly Jury empowered by others' expectations
Kelly Jury heard all the hype, and decided to embrace it.
Before she was even established as a starter for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, she was being talked about as a potential solution to the Silver Ferns' Caitlin Bassett problem.
The Australian shooter stands 1.97m tall, and has a big advantage over the likes of Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka (both 1.86m) that has proved decisive in recent times, so when 1.92m tall Jury emerged, hopes were high that she could make an impact.
Earlier this month, the 20-year-old made her first appearance against Australia, in the Quad Series decider in Invercargill, and came up trumps, earning player of the match honours in the Silver Ferns' 57-47 win, and forcing Bassett to be withdrawn in the third quarter.
Three games later, at the end of a hard-fought series win over the England Roses, Jury said all the talk about her potential had empowered her to succeed.
"I kind of already knew about the expectation that everyone had, and the public had, about me playing up against Caitlin Bassett, because we're the same height, so I tried to take that pressure and turn it into thinking that people do believe I can compete at this level."
"Through the years I've just loved playing netball, and I love competing at this level. Knowing that people think I'm good enough is a great feeling."
With England beaten, the Silver Ferns will turn their focus back to Australia, seeking their first Constellation Cup triumph since 2012, and with one excellent effort in the bag against the Diamonds, Jury knows she has set herself a high standard to keep meeting, just eight games into her international career.
"That's the thing at this level. You can't just go out and put out a one-hit performance, you've got to have that consistency.
"That's what I believe makes a great netball player and everyone in the team wants to be a great Silver Fern, including myself."
Jury, a Taranaki product, has been fortunate to benefit closely from the tutelage of two great defenders, in the form of Casey Kopua, her Magic teammate, and Katrina Grant, her Silver Ferns captain, who has recently moved to Cambridge, and who she works out with when the Ferns aren't together.
"It's pretty cool," said Jury, about getting to learn from Grant.
"She's one of the hardest working trainers that I've ever seen, so to be able to watch her and see what it takes to get to her level is really great for me."
The Constellation Cup begins on October 5 in Auckland, and though Jury will surely be in the Silver Ferns squad which is named on Friday, she wasn't taking it for granted.
"If I do get selected, in the Constellation Cup it will just be about building on that performance from two weeks ago, and proving that I can compete at this level at a consistent rate."