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Northern Mystics shooter Grace Nweke has earned her first call-up to the Silver Ferns.
Teen sensation Grace Nweke is a step closer to making her Silver Ferns debut after shooting into the New Zealand squad for this week’s Cadbury Netball Series.
The 18-year-old shooter has been a revelation for Northern Mystics over the past two ANZ Premiership seasons and led the competition with 471 goals in 2020.
However, her selection in the Silver Ferns for the four-team tournament in Palmerston North has come as somewhat of a surprise given she missed selection in the original 16-person New Zealand squad when it was announced in August.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Jane Watson, and Gina Crampton are co-founders of Skills Plus, offering a personalised coaching service to individuals, teams and organisations.
Eligible to play for the under-21 side, the uncapped Nweke seemingly forced her way into contention at last week’s training camp in Wellington, where coach Dame Noeline Taurua ran the rule over a wider pool of 40 players and declared all 15 spots were up for grabs.
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“I’m expecting the competition in this Cadbury Netball Series to be as best as it can be as we look further ahead to naming a team of 12 to take on England later this month,” Taurua said.
Joining Nweke in the Silver Ferns squad are midcourter Sam Winders (nee Sinclair) and shooter Monica Falkner, who were both part of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic squad this year, although Falkner played no part after suffering an ACL injury at last year’s Cadbury Series.
Falkner recently announced she will be moving to Northern Stars in 2021.
Experienced trio Bailey Mes, Katrina Rore and Temalisi Fakahokotau were deemed unavailable for selection due to injury management and medical reasons, and won’t feature again until next year.
The outlook is more positive for captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who has been given the all clear after shaking off an Achilles complaint.
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and rookie Maddy Gordon, who were originally named in the Silver Ferns squad for 2020, have missed selection and will instead play for New Zealand A.
A further three players from the Silver Ferns squad will drop down to play for the New Zealand A squad during the tournament, which begins at Fly Palmy Arena oN Wednesday.
“We have the Netball World Youth Cup next year, and of course the Cadbury Netball Series and Taini Jamison Trophy against England is upon us,” Taurua said.
“We need to leverage off each other and put ourselves under pressure so we can showcase the best possible product out on court for Cadbury Netball Series.
“We even have players in the NZA that will shift to NZU21 so I couldn’t be happier than I am now.”
The Silver Ferns squad will be whittled down to just 12 ahead of next week’s three-test series against England. Taurua will finalise her team for that series on Sunday.
Silver Ferns squad
Shooters: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Monica Falkner, Grace Nweke, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Maia Wilson
Midcourters: Gina Crampton, Claire Kersten, Kimiora Poi, Shannon Saunders, Sam Sinclair, Whitney Souness
Defenders: Karin Burger, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Kelly Jury, Jane Watson.