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Harrison itching for Diamonds challenge

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/10/2016 Cathy Walshe

Evergreen defender Anna Harrison is itching to get back out on court and test herself after an injury-enforced stint on the Silver Ferns sidelines.

The versatile 33-year-old has shaken off the calf strain which kept her out of action last month, and is primed for New Zealand's four-Test Constellation Cup series against Australia which begins in Sydney on Sunday.

Harrison missed last month's Quad Series against Australia, South Africa and England, as well as the three Tests against world No.4 Jamaica.

But the 79-cap defender is confident she's over the niggle, and can't wait to tackle the world No.1 Australians.

"I want to come in here and hit the ground running," she said.

"I've been around for a while, and I'm here because I want to be here and performing at my best."

Harrison has timed her return to the international arena impeccably, with the Silver Ferns last week losing influential wing defence Kayla Cullen to a foot fracture.

Playmaking goal attack Maria Tutaia also makes her return from a foot injury alongside Harrison, the pair boasting 181 caps between them in bringing some much-needed experience to the Silver Ferns.

Despite missing that international know-how, the Kiwis pushed Australia hard in the Quad Series, fading in the last five minutes to a 60-55 loss.

Harrison says the Ferns will need to work hard on their through-court defence to have any chance of reversing that result.

The return of influential midcourter Madi Robinson from a knee reconstruction has boosted the Diamonds, and Harrison says disrupting the link between her and goal attack Natalie Medhurst will be key.

"From the couch - and it's easier said than done - (it's about) shutting them down and doing the work before it gets to circle edge, because Caitlin Bassett is such a target, it's really hard to stop once it's there."

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