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Pulse trio back in black

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse trio Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Whitney Souness and Karin Burger have emerged from the most gruelling of camps to earn Silver Ferns recalls for January’s Northern Netball Quad Series.

Ekenasio and Burger had a brief involvement during the previous Quad Series in September while Souness was not involved in the late season international programme at all. However, all played key roles in the FAST5 Ferns World Series title win in October before returning to Pulse pre-season training early to help press their Silver Ferns claims at this week’s camp.

Pulse captain and Silver Ferns stalwart Katrina Rore (nee Grant) has been left out of January’s touring group but coach Noeline Taurua has been quick to stress the door remains open for all contenders through the upcoming ANZ Premiership before the final team is named for July’s World Cup.

With Burger being named in the team as a circle defender and Casey Kopua and Erena Mikaere getting their opportunities for the Northern tour, there is an experimental look to the defensive end.

After leaving her native South Africa to pursue her netball dream in New Zealand six years ago, Burger, a strapping athlete, has continued to impress, clinching her spot in the Silver Ferns earlier this year for a brief debut at wing defence in the Quad Series.

Regardless of the position you play, you love the sport, so for me, I don’t really care what position I play as long as I’m there,’’ she said.

I’m really excited and absolutely honoured. Looking at the caliber of players who aren’t going, I’m just absolutely astounded and feel very privileged.’’

Relentless and tireless as a competitor, Burger came into the camp with no expectations and the sole focus of gunning it’’ and giving of her best.

I gave it my all, was back to being my old self and that was the real positive for me,’’ she said.

This week was probably the hardest training I’ve done ever but that’s how you get the best out of people.’’

The shooting end also has a new look to it, with just three being named, the silky-skilled Ekenasio thrilled to be joining Maria Folau and Maia Wilson as the preferred options.

I’m absolutely stoked to be back in,’’ she said. I was disappointed with how I went in September’s Quad Series match knowing I had more to give and not taking the opportunity.

I went away and have been working so hard and now I feel like what I’m putting out on court a bit more consistently is a truer reflection of the player I am. I just have to keep pushing and that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks ahead of the tour.’’

Dynamic little midcourter Souness was an irresistible presence during the camp, thriving in the intense environment and stung into action after her non-selection for the end of season test schedule.

It’s really cool to come back,’’ she said. It was one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever been part of, everything, on and off the court was pretty full-on and I’ve learnt heaps.

I had some stuff I needed to work on and get better at if I wanted to get back in.’’

That work has paid off, Souness not realising the extent of her fitness levels until emerging from the high-octane camp with flying colours.

Silver Ferns team:

Shooters -Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maria Folau, Maia Wilson

Mid-court - Gina Crampton, Laura Langman, Kimiora Poi, Sam Sinclair, Whitney Souness

Defenders - Karin Burger, Casey Kopua, Erena Mikaere, Jane Watson

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