Ferns ‘working through’ vaccine hesitancy from some players
Vaccine hesitancy among some national squad members could put a major spanner in the works as the Silver Ferns build up to next year’s Commonwealth Games. While vaccines haven’t been mandated by Netball New Zealand at this stage, players would have to be vaccinated to travel abroad to meet international vaccine mandates. That would make it almost impossible to be a fully functional Silver Fern going forward. So is everyone in the Silver Ferns and development squad on board with getting vaccinated? Silver Ferns’ coach Dame Noeline Taurua told RNZ they were still working through vaccination with a few players but were heading ‘‘in the right direction’’. ‘‘Netball New Zealand policies are under way and we’re still muddling through what that might mean, especially around the traffic lights and also our work with high performance sport and the venues ... we’ve got to make sure that we’re aligned in regards to our policies,’’ Taurua said. ‘‘The biggest thing for us is that we cannot get on a plane unless you’re double vaccinated, going international. So that’s pretty much where our starting point is and obviously the team to go to Commonwealth Games, those protocols or requirements are very stringent.’’ Taurua was relieved after confirmation that the Silver Ferns will travel to London in January for the Quad Series against hosts England, Australia and South Africa. The four international sides will take to the court between January 15-19. It will be the first time the Silver Ferns compete overseas since the Nations Cup in England in January 2020 when Covid-19 travel restrictions didn’t exist. Unvaccinated players will have to make up their minds soon if they want to be eligible for that series. The Silver Ferns trials camp will be held in Wellington from December 15-17 with the team to be announced for the Quad Series at the end of the camp. The standard gap between the required two doses of the Pfizer vaccine is a minimum of three weeks. ‘‘These next three or four weeks are pretty tight with players, but also we know that we’re working through all the stages to make sure we’re clean [following Covid protocols for the December camp] in that respect.’’ Taurua said they became aware early on that there was some hesitancy among some members of the wider Silver Ferns squads. Based on what she saw from the Silver Ferns against the England Roses and the New Zealand men’s team, Taurua has a very clear idea of what she wants to iron out. The Quad series will also be an opportunity to work through some of the logistics of operating under Covid restrictions to prepare them for the Commonwealth Games in July.