The New Zealand Olympic Committee in conjunction with Netball New Zealand is pleased to announce the New Zealand Netball team to compete at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The team of 12 is:
Katrina Grant (captain),
Maria Folau (vice-captain),
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Silver Fern Development Squad member/Northern Mystics defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is the new cap for the New Zealand team and is joined by Ameliaranne Ekenasio who has been recalled into the New Zealand side. Ekenasio last played for New Zealand in 2016 before taking time away from the game to start a family.
Above: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
With just three members (Grant, Folau and Francois) of the 2014-squad that won silver in Glasgow, Netball New Zealand coach Janine Southby said they wanted to ensure that any changes to this year’s squad would give them their strongest combinations of both experience and youth.
She said there were some tough selection decisions that needed to be made after their most recent results but that she and the National Selectors were confident in the 12 players selected for the journey ahead.
“We are really pleased to be able to name a new cap in the team in Michaela who has had a very strong ANZ Premiership season with the Mystics and her addition to the side means we have cover for both GD and WD,” Southby said.
“Ameliaranne brings another layer of experience to our attacking end and her flair at both GA and GS leaves us with plenty of options up front. She has performed well for the FAST5 Ferns most recently and is ready to return to the top level.”
“We are aware of the challenge awaiting us on the Gold Coast which I know will bring out the best of these players.”
Above: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Sokolich-Beatson’s elevation to the New Zealand team comes after a stand-out season for both the Northern Mystics and at the helm of the victorious New Zealand under-21 team which won the Netball World Youth Cup crown in Botswana last year.
An earlier call-up to the national side was thwarted by a back injury which she has since recovered from.
Ekanasio returned to elite netball last October just months after the birth of her son and has realised a remarkable goal of making the Commonwealth Games team through hard work and determination.
Laura Langman was unavailable for selection due to taking a break away from the sport in 2018.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said that she was delighted to welcome the players to the team for Gold Coast 2018.
“Netball is one of the highlights of the Commonwealth Games and we know New Zealanders will be right behind the players named today,” she said.
“Gold Coast 2018 will feature the world’s best netball teams all vying for the gold medal. The competition will be tough but we have no doubts our team will be ready for the challenge.”
New Zealand has won five Commonwealth Games medals since 1998, including three silver medals and two gold. They last won gold in Delhi, India in 2010 after defeating Australia.
Gold Coast 2018
Above: Maria Folau
The team’s immediate focus will be three training camps in the build-up to the series against Jamaica, Malawi and Fiji for the Taini Jamison Trophy in Auckland from March 21-24.
The naming takes the total number of athletes selected to the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team to 111.