THE Silver Ferns are set to experiment after nailing their first series win against Australia in eight years.
Yesterday’s close 50-49 win over the old enemy in Auckland lifted plenty of pressure off the shoulders of new coach Waimarama Taumaunu.
While the right noises will be made, the result of the dead-rubber on Sunday is of secondary concern.
Taumaunu had the chance to consider the bigger picture.
“This is a very good Australia team,” Taumaunu told Fairfax NZ.
“We’ve had two wins, but by one and two goals, so we’re not going to suddenly throw the baby out with the bath water, but we’ll certainly see if we can make some changes and give people the experience they need in this atmosphere, but also do it in a way that’s helpful to their long-term development. It won’t be wholesale changes.”
The final test will be seen as a chance to trial players and combinations from the 12-strong team.
The outstanding Maria Tutaia and Irene van Dyk are destined for a break, with Jodi Brown, out of the team for five years, a chance to start at goal attack, paired with Cathrine Latu.
The pair have been training together during the week.
Anna Harrison, a revelation at wing defence in place of Joline Henry, could be rested for Kayla Cullen.
“The lines we’ve been practising have been Jodi at goal attack and Cat at goal shoot and Kayla in the defensive line. Those are the general changes,” Taumaunu explained her thinking for the final test.
However rookie Bailey Mes is unlikely to feature unless the Ferns pull out to a big lead.
“Probably not,” Taumaunu said when asked if Mes would play on Sunday.
“She’s come on well in our practice matches, but I’d like to give her an experience that’s enjoyable and good for her long-term development.
“It may not be one of those at the moment.”
Captain Casey Williams could also make her return from a long injury layoff.