New Zealand coach Dame Noeline Taurua has named a 12-strong team to compete at the 2023 Vitality Netball World Cup in Cape Town next month including six players who are set to make their debut at netball’s pinnacle event.
Netball New Zealand (NNZ) National Selectors and Taurua confirmed the team to head to Cape Town for the 28 July-6 August event and also named three travelling reserves who can be called upon as injury cover.
The defending world champions will be captained by Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who is heading to her second Netball World Cup, alongside World Cup cup debutantes Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson, Whitney Souness, Maddy Gordon, Kate Heffernan and Kelly Jury.
Shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit, midcourter Gina Crampton and the defensive trio of Jane Watson, Karin Burger, and Phoenix Karaka, along with Ekenasio, will return to help win the title again they won in Liverpool, 2019.
For the first time, teams are also able to take three reserves outside their 12-person squad who can replace a player who has been ruled out by illness or injury with Taurua confirming Tiana Metuarau, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, and Sulu Fitzpatrick will travel with the side. Once an original squad member is replaced however, they cannot return later in the tournament.
Taurua said that she was pleased to finally be able to confirm her team and wanted to acknowledge the role of this year’s ANZ Premiership had on what had been a tough selection process.
“I think the ANZ Premiership has truly delivered this season and enabled myself and the selectors to see our athletes at their best and in all sorts of pressure-filled situations,” she said.
“It has been one of the closest competitions we’ve ever had, and of a high standard with some extremely tight results, which has provided a strong environment before we step onto netball’s biggest stage. I would like to thank all ANZ Premiership teams for the work they have done to help prepare the athletes and provide a fierce competition.”
Taurua said the condensed ANZ Premiership season, which included a number of doubleheader weekends for teams, had replicated the back-to-back nature of the Netball World Cup schedule which worked in tNew Zealand’s favour.
“We have seen our athletes back up a number of times this season and in many cases backing up for some closely contested matches in extra time scenarios, which has provided the tests we had hoped they would face.”
New Zealand and the three reserve players now come together for three training camps over the six weeks before heading to Cape Town on 21 July.
Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maddy Gordon, Kate Heffernan, Kelly Jury, Phoenix Karaka, Grace Nweke, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Whitney Souness, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson. Travelling reserves: Tiana Metuarau, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, Sulu Fitzpatrick.