Northern Stars head Coach Kiwi Wills says she has taken full advantage of being invited into the Silver Ferns environment this year. Wills has been able to identify key areas to improve for the Stars who ended this year's ANZ Premiership at the tail end of the competition.
"The better the Silver Ferns are at that, they bring that back into our training environment and we go up a leave. We keep building because everybody's expectations of each other keeps building," says Wills.
Wills has put everything she's learnt in her time with the Silver Ferns coaching on court with the Stars. Wills was one of the ANZ Franchise Coaches invited to participate in the national side recent champ in Auckland. This had given her a chance to understand player dynamics when selecting her starting side.
We're going to play horses for courses, different players bring different things, for me the most pleasing thing this season, we've got a squad that even."
Northern Stars shooter Maia Wilson was named in the Silver Ferns squad. She makes up the new look shooting circle of Maria Folau, Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
"She's [Maia Wilson] just so strong and solid. Everybody knows what she's going to do but the defence can't stop her. She adds a vocal point to our attack."
Last week Silver Ferns head Coach Noeline Taurua pushed Silver Fern players to their fitness limits. Fitness is an area Wills and the Northern stars players focused on at pre-season training.
"Every single one of these player's would've made that standard. We are a lot fitter then we were last year, some people have done serious work in the off-season."
The excitement of Captain Grace Kara's announced that she is expecting her first baby in April has meant changes to the side.
"She [Grace Kara] still has the hunger. She really wants to be in this team, if opportunities came up we'd definitely look at it."
The Northern Stars return to training on January 7 ahead of the season opener against the Southern Steel in February at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.