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Scarlett stoked to be back in black

Published: 5:26PM Wednesday August 04, 2010 Source: NZPA

Born-again netballer Anna Scarlett is discovering that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After three years in the netball wilderness, Scarlett - 39-test Silver Fern and one-time beach volleyballer - is three days out from the Silver Ferns' first international of the season.

Scarlett accepts there are no guarantees she will start in Saturday's one-off match against Samoa in Porirua's Te Rauparaha Arena.

But the chances of court time are good as coach Ruth Aitken looks to hone her squad ahead of a gruelling three months culminating in the Silver Ferns' defence of their Commonwealth Games title in New Delhi in October.

It's all a bit of a turnaround from 2007, when a disillusioned and bitterly disappointed Scarlett quit netball after missing out on the New Zealand team to contest the world championships in Auckland that year.

Almost three years on the tough grind of the international beach volleyball circuit took its toll on Scarlett, and not even the temptation of an Olympic gold medal was enough for her to continue.

The 27-year-old Westport-born defender first made the Silver Ferns eight years ago, and has relished the challenge of forcing her way back without having played any competitive netball since the national provincial championships in September last year.

"It's been interesting coming back in - and a bit scary, I'm not going to lie to you," she said today.

"I haven't played any netball to prove that I should be here so I'm feeling the pressure, but I like that."

Her second time-round selection was possibly a bigger thrill than the first.

"I was really honoured to be chosen - I've got a history in netball, I've been in the team for world champs and Comm Games, so it's not like from nowhere.

"But I was really stoked - it's just awesome to be here."

Scarlett said her biggest challenge was fitting back into the Silver Ferns environment and getting reacquainted with a multitude of game plans.

She had no worries about getting that instinctive understanding back.

"The girls are awesome. They fill me in on court if I look like I'm lost, and I'm picking things up really fast.

"I think for me, it's getting back into it, picking up the netball rhythm, the movement patterns."

Scarlett, who signed yesterday with the Northern Mystics for next year's trans-Tasman league, said there was much that was familiar despite her three-year break from netball.

"People are saying it's a lot more physical but it was always physical, especially the internationals, so I'm not afraid of that."

The advantage of training on sand for beach volleyball had paid off strength-wise, she said, and when it came to fitness, some good aerobic genes were still working well.

"It's just a matter of putting all the movements patterns together and making them netball-specific."

Despite the speed of her return to international netball, Scarlett is keeping her expectations in check.

"Things are coming together fast and I'm looking to make a mark in the team, but I'm well aware that sitting on the bench could be the right position for me at the moment.

"So wherever they put me, I will go 100 percent, whether it be on the bench or on the court."

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