Coach Janine Southby named the 12-strong squad on Friday after a 10-day camp in Auckland at the end of January. Versatile Silver Ferns midcourter Kayla Cullen heads a strong New Zealand under-21 team to contest the world youth championships in Glasgow in August.
Cullen has 12 Test caps for the Silver Ferns, and has shown promise as a midcourt attacking player after making her debut at the defensive end of the court. Southby says her inclusion and versatility will provide a real boost for the under-21 team. "Having a player with the skill and ability of Kayla is going to strengthen our midcourt," she said.
Wellington mid-courter Nicola Mackle was the only Central Zone player represented at the camp. Her re-selection in such a competitive environment is outstanding and a tribute to her strong work ethic. There was also an element of surprise in the team, with youngster Erikana Pedersen forging her way into the final line-up despite not being in the original under-21 wider squad. The squad comprises a range of players with experience at trans-Tasman level, headed by Sophia Fenwick (Canterbury Tactix), Storm Purvis and Te Paea Selby-Rickit (both Southern Steel).
New Zealand under-21 Team: Sophia Fenwick, Gemma Hazeldine, Malia Pasekai, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Kayla Cullen, Nadia Loveday, Nicola Mackle, Erikana Pedersen, Stacey Peeters, Phoenix Karaka, Storm Purvis, Zoe Walker.