A quarter of the Silver Ferns World Cup squad will be made up of Southern Steel players after Shannon Saunders, Gina Crampton and Te Paea SelbyRickit were all selected for the tournament in England in July.
It will be the first time 2015 World Cup member Saunders has played for the national team since the Ferns’ disappointing campaign at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, while Crampton and Selby-Rickit will both make their World Cup debuts.
A fourth Steel player, Lenize Potgieter, will also play at the World Cup with her native South Africa. Speaking during the live announcement last week in Invercargill on Sky Sport, Saunders said being re-called to the team was unexpected.
She said she believed the experience of the three Steel players would help her and the Ferns out during their World Cup campaign.
“I think something that the Steel have developed is a really good winning culture and good under pressure. So I think that experience in tight situations and things like that will put me in good stead.”
Crampton was announced as the only specialist wing attack on the Ferns squad and believed it wouldn’t be a burden when it came to playing during the tournament.
“It’s exciting for me. I guess it’s nice knowing that there are other people in the team that can play wing attack as well. So everyone is going to have to put in and maybe go into some other positions sometimes.”
Selby-Rickit, meanwhile, said she believed being dropped from the Silver Ferns side earlier this year helped her regain form and fitness, which had led to her re-call.
“It was really nice to be able to spend a full pre-season with my Steel team, I hadn’t been able to do that with my Silver Ferns commitments so just able to get some fitness under my belt, work on my shooting, I think that really helped.”
The announcement at ILT Stadium in Invercargill was part of a big week for netball in the city, with the Steel winning its final game of the season against the Northern Stars last Wednesday night before facing the Stars again last night (Wednesday) for a spot in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final. Steel media manager Kate Buchanan said the decision to have the announcement in Invercargill was massive for the sport in the area.
“For Invercargill to be chosen as the location to name the Silver Ferns team for the 2019 Netball World Cup, live on Sky Sport, is a real coup. It reflects the respect Netball New Zealand has for our netball community and its reputation as one of the most passionate regions in the country. And the fact a quarter of the team is made up of Steel players is even more fantastic to have it revealed on our home turf.”
The 2019 Netball World Cup will be between July 12-21 in Liverpool, England.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here