Sport: Samoa and Fiji look to future after World Cup
Samoa and Fiji reflect on their performances at the Netball World Cup.
Samoa believes the future is bright after achieving a top ten finish at the Netball World Cup in Sydney.
Among their highlights was a win over Pacific rivals Fiji, who were left lamenting a lack of consistency.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
Samoa started the tournament slowly, losing all three of their matches in the opening pool phase before breaking their win duck against Singapore. Coach Marcia Hardcastle says the team had to manage a few injuries in the early matches but continued to improve game by game. She says the win over Fiji meant a lot against a team that had got the better of them in the Oceania Series in January and at last month's Pacific Games.
MARCIA HARDCASTLE: I think that's been a long-standing between the two countries: they haven't beaten Fiji probably for about eight or ten years. We managed to change our bench to what we needed out there so we took a while to get in front but once we got there we stayed in there so it was probably halfway in the third quarter, still teetering a bit, but the last quarter was a different level so credit to the girls really.
Marcia Hardcastle says senior players Opheira Harder Karatau, Natalie Jones and Nicolette Tato have signalled they will call time on their international careers but she hopes the team's efforts in Sydney will encourage more players to put their hands up to play for Samoa.
MARCIA HARDCASTLE: It's probably given them a good stepping stone. There is a couple of retirements but I think the country is in good stead for the opportunity for other players to put their hands up and actually come and trial for their country and be proud that they're playing Samoa. They're not the richest of countries - we've struggled through our tournaments funding-wise and we just try and keep our camps to minimum, so the girls have to work and not take so much time off. We've managed to do that over the past four years and the team has changed incredibly but I think this is a good step for Samoa going forward.
The Fiji Pearls lost to Wales and Uganda in their first two matches of the tournament before stringing together five wins in their final six matches to end up in eleventh place, four below their current world ranking. Kate Carpenter says Fiji's tournament was very up and down.
KATE CARPENTER: Some of the teams that would have finished higher [than us in the World Cup] - seventh and eighth - really haven't had a win since the pool matches. I think the learning from this for us is sure [we are] disappointed that we are outside our target [of a top eight finish] and then again outside the top ten but also some very positive things: the ability to close out close matches, the development within the side, the realisation that we have to be more consistent in international games and how different playing styles and different umpiring interpretations all have a part to play.
Plans are already afoot to address those concerns with Netball Fiji in talks with a handful of countries about beefing up their international calendar.
KATE CARPENTER: I think that's one of the strengths now of Netball Fiji so it's not four years [between World Cups] and then pick up the program again - that there's something constant and there is constant development of players. One of the particular areas is to have opportunities to play leading sides but also sides outside the region because that was a stand-out too: how difficult it is to play against teams that you haven't seen before play a different style and adapt and read that. The more we play outside the region the easier that gets and the more knowledge that we have, as a group, around how other countries play.
Fiji and Samoa will also be involved in qualifiers for the World Youth Championships, with the next Pacific Series also scheduled for 2017.
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