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No guarantees for returning Silver Ferns

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

There are no guarantees for Maria Tutaia and Anna Harrison when they rejoin the Silver Ferns for next month's four-Test Constellation Cup series against Australia.

The experienced pair boast 181 caps between them, but will have to fight their way back into the Silver Ferns' Test line-up after being sidelined by injury.

Coach Janine Southby won't cut any players from her 12-strong squad which recently beat world No.4 Jamaica three matches on end to win the Taini Jamison Trophy.

The same 12 players also contested the quad series, beating South Africa and England before losing 60-55 to Australia.

Tutaia, 29, is working through the foot problem which plagued her during the trans-Tasman league, while 33-year-old Harrison is struggling back from a more recent calf injury.

"They've also got to perform to get out there - it's not just a matter of getting back in the group and walking straight out onto court," Southby told NZ Newswire.

"Some players have really been putting their hands up in the two early series."

Injury management will also be a factor, with Tutaia and Harrison unlikely to play a full 60 minutes.

"Both of them are progressing really well, and we're pleased with where they're at, but they're both still being managed, and will be right up until Constellation Cup and through the series as well."

Southby said a 14-strong squad had been on her wish list since she took over from Waimarama Taumaunu as New Zealand coach late last year.

The extended squad will mean more competition for places, and exposes a wider range of players to the Australian style, she added.

Southby is balancing long-term targets centred around the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 World Cup with a more immediate goal of winning the Constellation Cup for only the second time in six years.

"There have been some promising parts of our game, but to take the Constellation Cup back off Australia, we have to tidy up our performance on attack and defence and stay in it for a full 60 minutes.

"And we have to do that four times."

The first Test is in Sydney on October 9, followed three days later by the second in Launceston. Auckland hosts the third match on October 15, with the final Test in Invercargill on October 20.

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