2019 Season Preview: New-look shooting end for Magic
With their defensive strike power back on deck, it is at the shooting end where Splice Construction Magic have undergone the biggest change heading into the 2019 season.
Disrupted by the loss of key contributors Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua for large chunks of last season, the defensive divas make a welcome return while two new faces have been added to the Magic’s scoring end.
Versatile shooter Abigail Latu-Meafou, who played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in last year’s Australian Super League, returns to the country of her birth while Kelsey McPhee makes the step-up after a prolific season with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Beko Netball League team.
They will join the impressive Monica Falkner, who continues to build on her promising career, the 22-year-old now assuming the senior pro role at the Magic’s shooting end this season.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone stalwart Amigene Metcalfe makes the move from assistant to head coach of Magic in 2019, well aware her shooting end will be a work in progress from the outset.
“It’s going to be a different sort of shooting end and may mean we’re looking at a more mobile attack,” she said.
“We don’t have a whole lot of height and we’re pretty inexperienced, so it’s just going to be a watch and see approach. But there’s definitely lots of energy and enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. I think sometimes that unknown factor can be an advantage and I’m hoping that’s the case.
“They’re all learning together a lot of them because they are so new but they’ve already established a strong support for each other down that end, so I’m quite excited about what the possibilities are.”
There is a strong presence of rising young local talent in the team with midcourter Lisa Mather and defender Jenna O’Sullivan also being elevated from the Beko ranks after enterprising seasons. Both got some experience at elite level last year after Magic were decimated by injury, going on to make the most of their opportunities.
“The challenge for anyone that’s in for the first time is the consistency and trying to replicate that week after week,” Metcalfe said.
“They’re just really keen, hard working and very coachable players so that’s a big thing.
“I’m more than happy with the balance that we’ve got. The dynamics seem to work. We’ve got some real energy and enthusiasm with those that are new and younger and then we’ve got some stability and hardened approaches with those ones that have been in there for a few years.”
With Kopua the standout in terms of experience, Jury and midcourter Sam Sinclair have also clocked up plenty of mileage despite their youthfulness. Ever-improving midcourter Ariana Cable-Dixon and the promising Sydney Fraser, who has had an injury-plagued two years, are a familiar presence.
“We’ve established those high performance standards but there is also a focus on having a real care for each other and that we lift each other up and go together,” Metcalfe said.
“We all know about those teams who have performed beyond expectations because they are happy off the court and certainly that’s our goal too.”
Ariana Cable-Dixon, Monica Falkner, Sydney Fraser, Kelly Jury, Casey Kopua, Abigail Latu-Meafou, Lisa Mather, Kelsey McPhee, Samantha Sinclair, Jenna O’Sullivan.