Fiji end a year in the international netball wilderness with a three test series against Singapore starting tonight, which kick-starts a busy few months on the road to the World Cup in Liverpool.

Five of the 12-strong squad are poised to make their international debut for the Pearls in tonight’s first test.

Head coach Vicki Wilson is looking forward to seeing her players out on court for the first time in 2019.

“It’s great to be able to play this test series against Singapore. It’s been a long time since we played a test match and it’s a very new group,” she said.

“There will be lots of people making their debut for the Pearls and they’re very young – we’ve got a 16 year old, Grace Korovatu, who’s from country New South Wales [and another player] who’s 17 from Suva so they’re two of the youngsters who will be stepping out on court for the Pearls for the first time so a huge step for them.”

Singapore is the first stop of many over the next four months, with the Pearls well and truly breaking a year-long absence from the international arena, with stop-overs in Darwin, Auckland before finally jetting to take on the world’s best.

“Well it’s been 12 months since we stepped out on court, so it was this time last year for the Commonwealth Games (and World Cup qualifiers),” said Wilson, who’s been in charge of the Pearls since 2016.

“To be able to have a new group out on court it’s really important that we just keep building with every game. We have four games here – three test matches against Singapore and we’re also playing their (Under) 21s on Friday night. Then once we get to the Arafura Games (in Darwin next week we will also) play six games there so very important matchplay.”

The Fiji team also have the benefit of a performance analyst to help them make further improvements on and off the court. Former Australian captain Wilson said the goal is to learn a little bit each day.

“It’s a great opportunity for the girls to start working on combinations and really testing themselves. We worked with them all individually yesterday about setting targets and how we measure individual performance so for the girls that was about looking at their error rate and also about looking at the way they gain the ball and the way it gives us more opportunities to score goals.”

The Fiji Pearls will also be involved in a quad series against the Silver Ferns, New Zealand Men’s team and an All Star selection in June before flying out to England for the World Cup.

RNZ

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