Two new faces in Silver Ferns for Constellation Cup

Defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson. - Photo: Photosport

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua has included two new faces to her Netball World Cup-winning side to contest next month's Constellation Cup series against Australia.

Defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson comes in for Casey Kopua who announced her retirement at the end of the Netball World Cup in July.

Taurua has also added shooter Maia Wilson into the mix for the Cadbury Netball Series (Australian leg only) which starts in Christchurch on 13 October.

Sokolich-Beatson made her debut for the Ferns last year and has 11 Test caps.

The Northern Mystics defender went over to Liverpool as injury cover for Katrina Rore, but wasn't needed in the end.

Wilson made her debut in 2016 and has 10 Test caps.

Taurua said selection of the 11 players who won gold in England this year, along with two of the non-travelling Netball World Cup reserves in Sokolich-Beatson and Wilson, was reward for the work and commitment they had shown over the past 12 months.

"The Constellation Cup is an opportunity for us to continue to grow and learn as a group and build on the gains we had made at the Netball World Cup. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels and think one cup is enough. The players who have been selected have once again met the fitness standards that are required to play the International game," Taurua said.

"The transtasman battle is arguably one of the fiercest netball rivalries ever. The Constellation Cup now has an added sting to it considering our last encounter at the Worlds."

There will also be two specialist coaches used during the four Tests with Silver Ferns assistant coach Deb Fuller unavailable to tour for this series after a busy World Cup campaign.

Silver Ferns debutant Maia Wilson

Maia Wilson Photo: Photosport

Former New Zealand defender and coach Yvonne Willering, who was used as a specialist coach during the build-up to the World Cup, will continue in the role while Australian Jane Woodlands-Thompson will also join the Silver Ferns camp for the Constellation Cup.

The former Adelaide Thunderbirds head coach is highly regarded for her roles in the High Performance arena, having signed on with Collingwood last year as the GM of Women's Sport, and knows the New Zealand game well having spent time with the Northern Mystics as a coaching consultant.

Taurua said she was looking forward to working with both coaches as they aim to get the best out of the athletes at the end of a demanding season.

"Yvonne and Jane are master coaches. They have so many years of experience behind them. They will bring fresh ideas, challenge our thinking, strengthen our current strategies and help us to continue to grow our game. Personally I feel privileged to work alongside them," she said.

"It has been an amazing year for the Silver Ferns in winning the Netball World Cup. It is important that we build on the momentum from that experience and strengthen our base so we can consistently perform at the highest level. This Constellation Cup is the first step in the overall plan."

Australian franchise players Laura Langman and goal shoot Maria Folau have been included in the side after being granted exemptions again to play for the Silver Ferns.

The Silver Ferns will come into camp in Christchurch on 8 October to prepare for the two Tests to be played in New Zealand.

The Constellation Cup moves to Spark Arena in Auckland on 16 October, where the match will mark the 150th Test between the two nations, before heading to Sydney and Perth in Australia.

The Diamonds hold the Constellation Cup and have won eight of the nine series, including all of the past six.

Silver Ferns team

Bailey Mes

Ameliaranne Ekenasio

Maria Folau

Maia Wilson - Australian leg only

Te Paea Selby-Rickit

Gina Crampton

Shannon Saunders

Laura Langman (captain)

Karin Burger

Phoenix Karaka

Katrina Rore

Michaela Sokolich-Beatson

Jane Watson

New Zealand A team named

Netball New Zealand has also announced a New Zealand A team which will be coached by Helene Wilson with Amigene Metcalfe named as assistant coach.

The NZA program will also have oversight from Silver Ferns coaching staff.

The team will come together to take on England A and Australia A sides in practice matches which will be closed to the public.

NZA team

Ellie Bird

Maia Wilson

Tiana Metuarau

Jamie Hume

Whitney Souness

Maddy Gordon

Kimiora Poi

Sam Sinclair

Kate Heffernan

Kayla Cullen

Abby Erwood

Kate Burley

Sulu Fitzpatrick

Temalisi Fakahokotau

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