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Southby prepares young side for Roses bout

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/08/2016

A file photo of Janine Southby. © Ross Setford/Getty Images A file photo of Janine Southby. Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby is approaching her side's upcoming Quad Series with one eye on the present and the other on the future.

The Netball World Cup runners-up head into Saturday's series opener against England with a depleted squad, particularly in the shooting circle.

The loss of star attacker Maria Tutaia will force Southby to partner incumbent shooter Bailey Mes, with the inexperienced Ameliaranne Ekenasio or debutants Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Maia Wilson.

Skipper Casey Kopua's absence in defence further compounds Southby's headaches, with fellow enforcer Katrina Grant standing in as captain for the series.

But the Silver Ferns coach, facing her first international netball season, says there's a silver lining among the clouds - the opportunity to blood new talent.

"We've obviously still got some reasonably experienced players in our group but we are looking long term," Southby said.

"The reality is that we don't actually get a lot of time together so it's about making the most of the opportunities we do have."

Southby said the week's preparation had been centred on nailing new offensive combinations and tactical plans.

The results would then take care of themselves.

"You put pressure on yourself because that's what you want to do," Southby said.

"It's about getting our systems working really well and getting confidence in that, building connections."

The Roses, ranked world No.3 behind Australia and New Zealand, would provide a stern test at both ends of the court.

New skipper Ama Agbeze marshalls a well-drilled defence while veteran Joanna Harten focuses on the goals up front.

"We've just got to stay connected as a group, do the work to get the ball down the court and put a lot of pressure on them," Southby said.

Agbeze, 33, said her path to the captaincy had been an arduous one.

The goal defender, who has played netball in England, Australia and New Zealand, couldn't wait to get out on the court.

"It's been a long road, a very long road," Agbeze said.

"I've experienced a lot of things, been to lots of places and met lots of people, and I'm still here."

World champions Australia will take on South Africa in the other Quad Series opening fixture on Saturday.

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