The first players from the World Cup-winning Silver Ferns netball team have arrived back in New Zealand.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Jane Watson, Karin Burger, Shannon Saunders and Phoenix Karaka landed about 5.30am at Auckland Airport today, less than 48 hours after defeating Australia in the World Cup final in Liverpool.
Reporter Matthew Theunissen was at the scene shortly before they landed and told RNZ’s First Up the arrival had not been well publicised but several people were still taking the opportunity to welcome the Ferns home.
“There’s a crowd starting to gather now, you can imagine there’s going to be a very warm welcome home.
“They’ve just come on a long flight from London via LA, but we’re just going to try and have a chat as soon as they get out of the gates.
Watch: The Silver Ferns arrive back home.
The team had not won the Cup for 16 years until their 52-51 victory early on Monday morning (NZ time).
Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua and captain Laura Langman are travelling to Queensland, where they are still involved in the Australian domestic netball league for at least five more weeks making any prospect of a full, celebratory welcome home a distant one.
However, Sports and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced yesterday that Parliament would a host a reception once all the players were back in New Zealand.
The lack of any prize money for the team’s win – compared to the $3m the Black Caps earned for their narrow loss to England in the Cricket World Cup final a week earlier – has also highlighted concerns about pay levels for women’s sport.
Source: rnz.co.nz republished by arrangement.