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Ferns focus on netball fine-tuning

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

Shannon Francois looks for support during the International Test Match between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Jamaica. © Evan Barnes/Getty Images Shannon Francois looks for support during the International Test Match between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Jamaica. It might be a good three years away, but the next netball World Cup is still looming large in Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby's thinking.

Just four games into her tenure, Southby is thinking long-term as the New Zealanders approach the second match in their three-Test series against Jamaica in Palmerston North.

"We know we've got a lot more to give - this group has a lot more growth to do," she said.

"We know we're doing some things reasonably well, but the reality is we want to be world champions and we've got a long way to go.

"It's still baby steps at the moment - we've got to keep pushing ourselves to keep being better."

Sunday's 72-34 crushing of the world No.4 Sunshine Girls in Nelson was encouraging, Southby says, but there's still plenty of work to be done.

Fine-tuning timing on defence is one area where she wants to see improvement, with Jamaica's more measured, patient game occasionally proving tricky to read.

"Some areas we had a couple of lulls, and it got a bit scappy and messy at times," Southby said.

"The style the Jamaicans play is probably quite different from the speed we're used to."

Jamaica are in a rebuilding phase, and getting used to a more mobile and noticeably shorter shooting circle without twin towers Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken.

The Silver Ferns are also missing some key players, and still developing their through-court connections into a shooting circle without the calming influence and experienced eye of injured goal attack Maria Tutaia.

Midcourt maestro Laura Langman and wing attack Grace Rasmussen are developing a slick, up-tempo combination boosted by wing defence Kayla Cullen's ball-carrying ability in setting up attack from turnover ball.

But with a relatively inexperienced shooting circle, headed by Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Wells, Southby says it's going to take time for her team to grow confidence in their links.

"The girls are still building the connections, that understanding and ability to know exactly what the person they're working with is likely to do," she said.

"When you get that innate sense and understanding, then it's a lot easier to let the ball go.

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