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Kersten revels in unexpected Silver Ferns opportunity

Surprise call-up results in Silver Ferns debut for Pulse midcourter Claire Kersten. Photo: Andy Radka -- Above Ground Level Photography

A whirlwind three days has delivered Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse midcourter Claire Kersten the unexpected surprise of her first international netball cap and now she wants more.

After a stellar season with the Pulse, the hard-working and consistent Kersten was desperately unlucky to miss the Silver Ferns final cut, instead named in the Silver Ferns Development squad.

There has, however, been a silver lining, a surprise late call-up to train alongside the team ahead of today’s second test against the England Roses resulting in inclusion in the match-day 12 and fulfilling a dream which not so long ago had seemed out of reach.

Despite the series now going to a decider in the third and final test in Hamilton on Wednesday after England’s three-goal win today, Kersten’s contribution during the second half of the match did her cause no harm.

``Growing up when you’re a competitive netballer, playing for the Silver Ferns is the dream for a lot of young girls and you go through a lot of ups and downs along the way,’’ she said.

``Sometimes you feel like it’s out of reach and certainly things over the last year or so have changed quite dramatically for me, in terms of netball and it’s pretty exciting for me to be here at the moment.’’

Taking a little time to find her feet, the tenacious Kersten did not look at all out of place and by the time a tense and pulsating fourth quarter was playing out, the 28-year-old Newlands College secondary school teacher was in her element and in the thick of action in a torrid and tense showdown.

``I definitely had no idea this opportunity would come so quickly,’’ she said.

``People tell you to make sure you keep training, keep on top of things and make sure that you’re ready but you never think it’s going to happen like it has. So, the phone call on Friday morning from Janine Southby (Silver Ferns coach) was a bit of a surprise.

``I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was at work and she just asked if I wanted to come up to Napier and train alongside the group and it just developed from that. A week ago, I was playing in our club final (for Wellington East), so this was a bit of a stark contrast.’’

Having spent her early years in Hawke’s Bay, it was fitting for Kersten that her international debut took place in the province and extra special that her parents were on hand for the occasion.

Having her Pulse team-mate and Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant behind her in the defence line helped settle the nerves, her 30 minutes on court over all too quickly but fuelling the desire to grab a more permanent spot.

``You could definitely feel a step up in terms of intensity and now afterwards, there’s mixed emotions,’’ she said.

``It’s exciting to get out there, it’s disappointing not to get a win and left lots of things to think about and work on going forward. It has absolutely whetted my appetite for more. Once you get that little taste, I think it’s pretty natural to just want to keep going forward with it.’’

Kersten was on the team bus headed for Hamilton post-match, a decision on her involvement with the team heading into Wednesday’s decider still to be made.

Whatever the outcome, it’s a case of just pushing on for Kersten and chipping away while awaiting her next opportunity.

``Things haven’t really stopped too much since (Silver Ferns) trials. A group of us back in Wellington have been back training pretty hard, so that just continues and ensures you’re ready if anything comes up. After what’s happened for me, it makes you aware you’ve got to be prepared for anything,’’ she said.


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