With six from the Zone included, Netball Central players feature strongly in the recently-named 16-strong NZ U21 squad, the focus now firmly set towards the 2025 Netball World Youth Cup.

Ranging from schoolgirl to ANZ Premiership players, shooters Amelia Walmsley, Sarah Guiney, Phoenix Schwalger and defenders Caitlin Lafaele, Rachel Price and Madison Thomas have made the cut following strong performances for a variety of teams within the Central Zone.

After an impressive first full playing season with Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, Walmsley was also recently included in the Silver Ferns team to meet the touring England side. As a schoolgirl, fellow shooter Schwalger needed an exemption to play in this year's Synergy Hair Netball League (SHNL), the St Mary’s College student delivering a stellar debut season in helping Manawa clinch the title.

Rangy and ever-present defenders, Price and Thomas also produced equally compelling performances for Manawa in taking their respective games to new heights. Shooter Guiney, out of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, was a member of the NZ Secondary Schools team this year while defender Lafaele, another out of the St Mary's netball nursery, made a similarly strong impression at schoolgirl level.

"We're delighted to have such a strong representation with these six players making the NZ U21 squad," Netball Central Director of High Performance Wai Taumaunu said.

"It's credit to the work that goes on behind the scenes and Netball Wellington Centre's talent development programme has played a big part in this."

The national U21 programme is an important component of the pathway to the Silver Ferns and the World Youth Cup, to be played in Gibraltar in 2025, is the pinnacle event for these elite age-group netballers.

The squad will meet in Wellington on October 20 – 23 with a second camp being held in February.

A small squad has been named in the first instance but is open to additional players after this year's national secondary school champs and next year's SHNL.

In a robust process, the selectors have observed players from a variety of events including the ANZ Premiership, SHNL, the NZ Secondary Schools trials and both the U18 and National Open Championships.

New Zealand won the previous two Netball World Youth Cup titles, held in Botswana, 2017, and in Scotland, in 2013. The 2021 event, set to be staged in Fiji, was cancelled due to Covid-19. 

New Zealand Under 21 Squad: 

Laura Balmer (South), Taiana Day (Mainland), Serina Daunakamakama (Northern), Sarah Guiney (Central),
Kaiya Kepa (WBOP), Caitlin Lafaele (Central), Charlotte Manley (Northern), Shaquaylah Mahakitau-Monschau (WBOP), Khanye-Lii Munro-Nonoa (Northern), Rachel Price (Central), Kate Taylor (WBOP), Summer Temu (Northern), Madison Thomas (Central), Lili Tokaduadua (Northern), Phoenix Schwalger (Central), Amelia Walmsley (Central).