Silver Ferns star Maia Wilson has been showing her respect for the England Roses who left "their whānau back home” to be part of the only international netball series since the coronavirus pandemic began, which starts tonight.
“We’re very thankful”, she says.
“Internationals are back - we're fortunate enough to say that, because across the world they’re still struggling.”
The 23-year-old, who hails from Te Rarawa and Te Waiohua, gave a rare interview in Hamilton on game-day, which traditionally never happens in sports because players need to concentrate on their sport. However, the support given by the New Zealand government and Netball NZ to allow England to travel over has given Wilson much inspiration ahead of tonight's first test of three, which she wanted to pay tribute to.
“It’s a moment to respect our opposition who had to jump over momentous hurdles,” she said.
The Roses came out of their 14-day quarantine in Christchurch over the weekend with a line-up mixed between youth and three experienced players including Jade Clarke (178 test caps), captain Serena Guthrie (98 test caps) and Kadeen Corbin (70 test caps). But they had to lose 458 test caps with seven of their English representatives who were part of the Suncorp Super Netball - Australian domestic league, who only finished their season last week.
There’s no doubt Wilson is coach Dame Noeline Taurua's preferred starting goal-shooter alongside captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Tainui) who will be goal-attack in this week’s Taini Jamison Trophy at Claudelands Arena. The Silver Ferns have not won the series since 2017.
“It’s so exciting - I think walking into this facility and you see all the branding, it just makes you feel like its game-day,” Wilson says.
Awarded Player of the Match in the Silver Ferns' historic win over the NZ Men’s Netball team in the Cadbury Netball Series last week, Wilson is looking to repeat her top performance. She finished the final match on Saturday with 27/30 goals and her shooting accuracy at 90%.
“I think playing the men is the best way to prepare for an international series.”
The last time Wilson matched up against the Roses was in January before the pandemic, in the Silver Ferns' stellar victory at the Nations Cup, which also included other countries such as South Africa's SPAR Proteas and Jamaica's Sunshine Girls.