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Southby challenges Silver Ferns to deliver

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

Forget about a rebuilding phase - the Silver Ferns have what it takes to start delivering now.

Just six games into her stint at the helm, coach Janine Southby has seen enough to believe her team can upset world champions Australia in next month's four-Test Constellation Cup series.

The Ferns wrapped up a clean sweep in their three-match series against world No.4 Jamaica with a 66-38 win in Rotorua on Saturday.

Despite an underwhelming first quarter, which the Kiwis levelled 13-13 with two goals in the last 40 seconds, the win was never in doubt.

It mirrored the earlier two Tests, won by 38 and 23 goals respectively, and follows big wins over South Africa and England - and a five-goal loss to Australia, earlier in the month.

Given that outside Laura Langman (137 Tests) and Katrina Grant (85), the rest of the 12-strong squad total 171 caps between them, the results are distinctly encouraging and bode well for the future.

Southby, however, has higher expectations.

"I believe in these girls," she said in Rotorua after Saturday's game.

"I think they've got a great potential, and we don't have to wait for two years to see that.

"I think we should start demanding to see that now."

Missing their two main strike weapons in shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken, Jamaica stretched New Zealand for a quarter here and there over the series but never seriously threatened an upset.

"They challenged us in lots of different ways, and we need that," Southby said.

"We've got a tough series coming up against Australia, so it was a good reminder that you can't just let it slide and go into cruise mode."

Southby was able to give all her squad game time over the last four weeks, and says while she's seen improvement in key areas, there's still ground to make up.

Defensively, the Silver Ferns have impressed. Late call-up Jane Watson has made the most of her chance, forming a promising partnership with skipper Grant and working hard to create a steady supply of turnover ball.

On attack, there's still some work to do when it comes to the midcourt links into the shooting circle.

"The big thing has been focusing on building connections," Southby said.

"Sometimes it looks amazing and sometimes it doesn't. It's about really developing that consistency, and having that innate understanding of each other.

"I think that's still in the early stages but when we get it right, the timing, the vision and the passing is great."

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