Grace Nweke is closing in on Silver Ferns, but attacking on goal remains a concern
In-form Mystics ‘penalty shootout Grace Nweke could come close to the Silver Ferns’ debut after a stellar ANZ Premiership season.
The 19-year-old shooter has been among the best players in the competition and a key performer for the top-table Mystics.
The 2021-2022 Silver Ferns national team, made up of 16-18 players, will be named on August 10, two days after the grand final – in which the Mystics are expected to participate. A Ferns development team (8-10 players) will be appointed at the same time.
Nweke, a member of Ferns’ development team, could be rewarded for her outstanding season with a promotion to the top team.
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She has scored 643 goals in 12 games (54 per out) at 89 percent – 196 more than Maia Wilson, captain of the Stars and Ferns goal-shooter, the second-most prolific.
Nweke has yet to play an international, but was part of the Ferns environment last year. The 1.93m Aucklander has appeared in three Cadbury Series games in Palmerston North against New Zealand A, New Zealand Men and New Zealand Under-21.
Wilson is the Ferns’ best shot on goal after shining in the Constellation Cup triumph in March against Australia and impressing internationally for the past 18 months.
Heading into next year’s Commonwealth Games, the Ferns might decide now is the time to bring Nweke into their squad and see what she can do. New Zealand hope to play a home series against England and a Constellation Cup at home and away against Australia this year.
Strength and conditioning have been a major job for Nweke, which is not surprising considering this is only his second full season of elite netball.
Silver Ferns coach DameNoeline Taurua was encouraged by the progress Nweke had made with his conditioning and said it was reflected in his game.
“His overall positioning has also improved and probably around body strength as well.
“In the shooting position you get a lot of hits there, and I think those changes she made in terms of strength in her body definitely made the difference for her to be able to take a lot. good balloons. “
Nweke had dominated all defenses in the competition and performed well against Tactix Silver defenders Fern Jane Watson and Karin Burger. She also got the better of Anna Harrison, a former Fern of 88 tests, with Nweke and the Mystics winning all three games against the Crosstown Stars.
“Its volume is really high. She fulfills her main role in a remarkable way. The volume and the percentage are really high. She has definitely improved in terms of her physical condition as well, the standards from last year to this year.
The gauge for Nweke and all of Ferns’ shots on goal was against Australia and the formidable one-one defense of the Diamonds. Australian defenders Courtney Bruce, Jo Weston and Sarah Klau are all physical players, challenging every ball, which was a steep learning curve for Ferns’ young shooters, Taurua said.
While the Ferns had options on the shot on goal, attacking on goal remained a concern with limited depth in position.
Améliaranne Ekenasio, captain of the Fougères and starting goal attack, is not available this year with her second child expected in November.
Veteran goal attacker Bailey Mes struggled for the Mystics, playing primarily as a passer alongside Nweke. Mes, a 72-test mainstay, missed all of last season following knee surgery and is still battling the injury.
She’s been on a managed workload all season in training and on a limited time on the field in some games for the Mystics.
His numbers make a poor reading, scoring just 56 goals in 95 attempts at 59%, well below his usual standards.
“I guess there’s a little story about what she can and can’t do, and I’m very aware of what the story is,” Taurua said.
“What you see in the front [in games] doesn’t always match up with what’s going on behind the scenes, but I really know what she’s capable of.
The coaches should weigh Mes’s health and what she has produced on the pitch this season, Taurua said.
Mes has been a reliable member of the Ferns for over a decade, able to cover shots on goal and wing attacks as well. Her experience and past efforts in the black dress could count in her favor without Ekenasio.
“These are the decisions that we, as managers, have to make at the time of selection as to his progression,” said Taurua.
“Did she have sufficient justification to be selected again and has her performance been up to international standards?”
“With this attacking goal position, with all of them, we have to ask ourselves these questions, and we certainly will.”
Te Paea Selby-Rickit, a 46-test fern, was a mixed bag for the Tactix, standing out in some games, but also delivering a quieter performance.
Another Ferns attack on goal, Monica Falkner, only returned from a knee injury in Sunday’s game against the Mystics, playing eight minutes on the bench for the Stars.
Falkner, who was part of the Ferns’ Constellation Cup squad, had been out since the second round.
The lack of options for attacking goals could potentially open the door for uncapped players like Tiana Metuarau (Steel) or Jamie Hume (Stars) to find their way.
“This attacking goal position is open to everyone, and they all have this message,” said the coach.
“These next three or four weeks [leading into the grand final] there is going to be pressure in those shooting positions. Can’t wait to see who can get up [at goal attack]. “
AT A GLANCE:
13th round of the ANZ Premiership:
Sunday 4:15 p.m .: Pulse v Magic at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Sunday 6:15 p.m .: Steel v Mystics at Southland Stadium, Invercargill
Monday 7:15 p.m .: Tactix v Stars at Christchurch Arena, Christchurch