Silver Ferns coach 'disappointed' at Jamaica series shambles

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua has expressed her disappointment at what has become of this year's Taini Jamison Trophy series, saying Jamaica's poor preparations have denied them and fans of the "world class" netball that should be expected.

Speaking to media after her side's 70-45 win, Dame Noeline gave her side a "6.5" rating for the 70-45 win but noted it was a "positive" score given the obscene build up her side has had to endure.

As part of several visa and flight issues, only seven players from the 12 originally named have managed to make it to New Zealand for the series, leaving Jamaica with the bare minimum to play a match but still needing three more players to give the series Test status.

As a result, former internationals Carla Borrego and Romelda Aiken George were brought in from Australia to help make up numbers before coach Connie Francis, in her late 50s, confirmed she'd be the final piece of the improvised solution.

All of that commotion took place after the two Tests in Hamilton had to be cancelled due to the late arrival of the players who did eventually make it, resulting in a match being axed and the entire series - now only two Tests - being shifted to Auckland.

Dame Noeline said it was a "celebration" to get the series over the line but there was still plenty to question.

Dame Noeline Taurua.

"I suppose there are areas that are disappointing not only for us as the Silver Ferns but also our fans and also our ability to present something as world class not only professionally on court but also off court," Dame Noeline said.

"I think there's standards that we try to uphold but also the work that's really important in regards to netball generally in the world and highlighting netball as a professional sport.

"So in that regard I am disappointed and I suppose the people in power or whoever will review what is required after the series."

Dame Noeline joked following news that Francis was coming out of retirement to make up numbers, she had received multiple calls asking whether or not she too was ready to lace up.

"I actually used to play with Connie back in the day and she was a very good player," Taurua recalled.

"I probably would've freaked out if she was still able to do what she could do many years ago which probably wouldn't have been a good look for us."

Grace Nweke and Abbeygail Linton contest a rebound.

But in a more serious response, a former attacker with 34 Test caps Dame Noeline said Netball Jamaica needed to learn from this experience with Francis, Borrego and George all a serious chance of playing tonight after their seven starters all played the full 60 minutes yesterday.

"We know that they needed to have 10 and I suppose from [Francis'] position, I'm not 100% sure, but she's a proud Jamaican and sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.

"But I think that also exposes some of the areas they need to look at - one being meeting your contractual obligations but also the health and wellbeing of their players."

Francis vowed the situation would be a one-off. "It will never happen again."

"It has been a very challenging month, replacing players to ensure that we have the players to come. I really appreciate Netball New Zealand for the hard work that they have put in and also Netball Jamaica to ensure that we can have a series."

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The series wraps up tonight with World Netball confirming in a statement to 1News they will investigate the series once it has concluded.

"World Netball’s role in this is to support both teams where we can, to ensure the test matches take place. That is our first priority," a spokesperson said.

"We will investigate the circumstances with all the relevant parties - we don’t know all the facts yet.

"Failure to fulfil a fixture is a serious matter because of the impact on all the stakeholders and this is covered in our General Regulations."

Tonight's Test tips off at 7pm NZT at the Pulman Arena.


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