Francois wants fast-starting Silver Ferns

Feb 1, 2017 - 11:02 PM Slow starts plagued the Silver Ferns last year and the early signs don't look good for 2017.

Centre Shannon Francois says the New Zealand players were gutted to be eight goals down inside the first 10 minutes of their opening 57-50 Quad Series loss to Australia in Durban, South Africa.

Three days later they find themselves in Liverpool, preparing to play England in a clash likely to decide who finishes second in the travel-heavy four-nation tournament.

Francois said recovery from another long flight was top of the priority list ahead of Friday morning's (AEDT) Test.

Close behind was a desire to begin well against their third-ranked opponents.

Sluggish starts hampered numerous Tests in 2016 and Francois told NZ Newswire the players have had enough.

"It's been a big problem so hopefully after one game under our belt this year, we've got it out of our system," she said.

"That first quarter in Durban absolutely killed us. The last three quarters we were right in it so it was disappointing that it influenced the game so much."

Francois hoped the Kiwi midcourt could build on a sound combined effort against the slick Australians.

She was pleased with the debut of wing defence Sam Sinclair.

The pair hope they can forge a combination which will silence any talk lamenting the absence of midcourt great Laura Langman, who is ineligible this year.

"Laura's definitely got huge shoes to try and fill. I'm still struggling to try and do that but I think I've just got to get on with it," Francois said.

"If she's not going to be there, we've just got to learn and adapt to the way other midcourters play.

"Sam was really confident and it was a good start for her."

England, who needed extra time to beat South Africa 60-55 in Durban, were potent opponents on their home court, Francois said, particularly in front of a crowd expected to number about 5000.

New Zealand's closing match is on Monday (NZT) in London against South Africa, who lost 62-46 to Australia on Thursday.

Source: AAP

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