Quick return to action for new mum Ekenasio
Less than five months after the birth of her first baby, silky-skilled shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio is set for an international return at the Fast5 World Netball Series in late October.
Fellow Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse team-mate Whitney Souness will join Ekenasio in the 10-strong FAST5 Ferns team for the Melbourne-hosted event.
Following the birth of her son Ocean, it is the first step on the comeback trail to elite level netball for Ekenasio, 26, while fleet-footed midcourter Souness, 21, continues her stellar climb after debuting for the Silver Ferns in the recent Quad Series.
``This is something I originally wanted to work towards but just never knew if it was going to be a possibility, if I’d even be able to be selected, so obviously I’m over the moon,’’ Ekenasio said.
Back into fulltime training and playing netball again at club level just eight weeks after her baby’s birth, Ekenasio felt Fast5 was the perfect way to get back into the groove at the top level.
The 12-cap Silver Fern was forced to withdraw from last year’s FAST5 Ferns team but has always had a hankering to play the shortened version of the game.
``This will be a big challenge but it’s really cool and something to work towards so soon after baby,’’ she said.
``I’m just doing the best I can every day and knowing I’m getting closer every day. It’s going to be tough but I’ve got to get back in there somehow. And this is probably the best type of competition for me to play initially because of its format with the rolling subs and the fun factor.’’
Informed a few weeks prior that she was on the long list, Souness, another Fast5 novice, was delighted to make the final selection in what has been a memorable year in pushing her case for higher honours.
``I’ve always wanted to try Fast5,’’ she said. ``I’ve watched it and like the look of the pace it’s played and the different aspects to the format.
``I like playing a fast-paced game so I think the Fast5 style will suit me, it’s just another great opportunity. While still having that emphasis on competitiveness and winning, there is also a fun element attached to the format which I’m looking forward to.’’
Defending champions, the FAST5 Ferns have dominated the event since its inception in 2009, winning six out of the seven titles on offer. No event was held in 2015 due to the Netball World Cup while England, the only other successful team, scooped the title in 2011.
The Fast5 Netball World Series will be played in Melbourne on October 28-29.
Jamie Hume, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Monica Falkner, Maia Wilson, Erikana Pederson, Whitney Souness, Kayla Cullen, Storm Purvis (C), Zoe Walker, Temalisi Fakahokatau.
Coach: Kiri Wills
Assistant coach: Margaret Forsyth
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