2019 Season Preview: Mystics prepare for new era
Five new players headline the Northern Mystics transition into a fresh era, height being a prominent feature of the new-look team for 2019.
Bookended by 1.96m shooter Kristina Brice and 1.92m defender Erena Mikaere, the Mystics have introduced potent strike weapons at each end of the court, with the pair also bringing the experience of being part of winning cultures with them.
Import Brice played for the Giants in Australia’s Super League during 2017 and 18 while Rotorua’s Mikaere spent four years playing in Australia and was part of the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s back-to-back title wins in 2017 and 18.
“It’s a changing of the guard at the Mystics and my thinking around building our team was making sure we can still have experience in each area of the court,” coach Helene Wilson said.
“At the same time, we’ve got some really young exciting talent coming through who have had a taste of ANZ and now have an opportunity to take what they’ve learnt and put it out on court.”
With shooters Jamie Hume and Bailey Mes, defenders Phoenix Karaka and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and midcourter Elisapeta Toeava returning, Wilson has retained a strong core while adding Australian experience and youthful punch in the midcourt.
Midcourter Emma Iversen has made an impressive impact since returning to her netball roots two years ago and has been elevated to the Mystics after a strong season in the Beko Netball League.
Producing telling influence as a training partner has earned a full Mystics contract this season for midcourter Grace Kukutai, who enhanced her prospects with increased court time during 2018 while last year’s New Zealand Secondary School Player of the Year, Tayla Earle also gets the call-up.
“I’m a true advocate that part of my job is to support the system and netball in New Zealand,” Wilson said.
“You can’t just take older players across your team to win. Winning’s about how you use the diversity of what every player brings. I’ve got 10 players that I can put on the court and that’s exciting.”
Wilson is expecting another rise in the quality of the competition which is approaching its third edition.
“That young uptake of talent that we had after the last World Youth Cup (2017) are now experienced campaigners, and there’s a heap of them around the country,” she said.
“That experience is now embedded in New Zealand netball and I’ve found the talent that we’ve picked up that’s new to this level is raring and ready to go.”
Sticking to their traditional style of playing with the ball at speed and playing space, week-in week-out, is the main aim for the Mystics in 2019.
“In 2018 we had some amazing performances as well as some performances we weren’t proud of, so it’s how we bring that creativity and flair into our game every week and if we can do that, we will make the Finals, rather than just missing out,” Wilson said.
Kristina Brice, Tayla Earle, Jamie Hume, Emma Iversen, Phoenix Karaka, Grace Kukutai, Bailey Mes, Erena Mikaere, Michaeala Sokolich-Beatson, Elisapeta Toeava.