Tag: New Zealand

Nweke shooting for repeat World Cup success

Goal Shooter, Grace Nweke of New Zealand in action at the 2023 Quad Series.

Picture Credit: Skhu Nkomphela

Nweke shooting for repeat World Cup success

The last time Grace Nweke visited Cape Town, she secured the Best Shooter and Player of the Series accolades at the 2023 Quad Series which featured New Zealand, Australia, England, and South Africa.

Now the young Silver Ferns goal shooter is eager to put in a similar performance when she returns to South Africa for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 next month.

“I didn’t realise I was the top scorer,” admitted Nweke.

“I guess I just like to get out there and play. I’m grateful to be given that opportunity on the court to be able to put up that many goals.

“I’m just looking forward to another opportunity to play in Cape Town and whatever the result is, grateful to be there and ready to work hard.”

This will be the 21-year-old’s first Netball World Cup, having made her international debut against England in 2021.

“I haven’t really taken in how awesome it is to be part of the Netball World Cup. It’s the pinnacle of our sport so I’m very excited. There are obviously a lot of nerves involved with that but I’m just really grateful to be given this opportunity.”

At 6 ft 3, Nweke is hard to miss in the shooting circle, and she’s certainly made her presence felt in the last year, having been named Silver Ferns Player of the Year for 2022.

Each time she takes to the court, Nweke remains acutely aware of the part she plays in representing both her Nigerian heritage and being a strong Black female role model, while also relishing the opportunity to proudly wear the colours of New Zealand.

“My Nigerian heritage is really important to me.

“That’s who I am and where I’m from. I’m really proud to be a New Zealander as well and have that kind of migration, my parents both being Nigerian and me being born in New Zealand.

“I’m really proud to represent both sides of, I guess, who I am and my culture, especially in Africa and being able to do that during a World Cup.”

While New Zealand are heading into the tournament as defending champions, having edged Australia by just one goal in the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 final, Nweke says that mantle doesn’t come with added pressure.

“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure. I’d say it’s more of a driver – to want to work hard. But as a completely new team [to the one] who did that job four years ago, it’s more exciting to be able to show what we’ve got in our current playing group.

“So it’s definitely more inspirational than it is pressure.”

As for the prospect of potentially meeting 11-time champions Australia in the final again, Nweke added: “To beat Aussie again I think we just need to do what we do best. “I think we need to focus on our own game plan as opposed to the opposition so I think if we work on our structures and the game plan that we’re currently producing, I think we’ll be able to beat any team.

“Training has been going really well, we’ve been working really hard.

“We’re feeling very confident in the sense that you have to be. You have to believe in what you’ve got and back your team, so very confident and excited to get playing.”

The Silver Ferns will play the opening match of the Vitality Netball World Cup against Trinidad and Tobago on 28 July. Their other first stage preliminary matches are against Uganda on 29 July and Singapore the following day.

Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.

Photo: Skhu Nkomphela

NZ name powerful World Cup squad

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.