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Challenge beckons New Zealand netballers

22 July 2002

The Silver Ferns are determined to shed their bridesmaid tag.

Belinda Colling

The Silvers Ferns want to displace the Australians as number one

The Manchester Commonwealth Games will be the first major netball tournament for world number two New Zealand under the leadership of coach Ruth Aitken and captain Julie Seymour.

Seymour replaced long-time New Zealand captain Bernice Mene in February while former coach Yvonne Willering is now Fiji’s assistant coach.

Aitken said her team was intent on shedding their bridesmaids tag, having lost the 1999 world championship by one goal and the 1998 Commonwealth Games by three goals. Both defeats were suffered against Australia.

“That is what the New Zealand team has worn and now it’s time to decide if we are going to be the bride,” said Aitken whose side arrived in Manchester on 20 July.

“We are aiming for the top spot like all of the teams but we need to work on some consistency before thinking of the big medal games.”

Australia and New Zealand, the favourites for gold in Manchester, have played six times in the past 18 months and have split honours three apiece.

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