2020 Season Preview: Northern Mystics
Looking to head in the opposite direction after finishing bottom of the table last year, a talent-laden Northern Mystics are gearing up to make waves during the 2020 ANZ Premiership.
Despite the devastating loss of Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, one of their key performers and leaders in recent seasons to a ruptured Achilles, the Mystics have a well-credentialled team with key experience in all areas.
“We’ve got a great balance of experience and youth, so the opportunity for us this season is how we knit the two together to keep playing the exciting netball that we had going towards the end of last year,” Mystics coach Helene Wilson said.
“The other thing is, we’ve got a reasonably settled team this year as well, so we’re working with largely the same people and building on what we did last year.”
The addition of Sulu Fitzpatrick to the defensive unit brings extra experience and leadership but the real talking point is at the other end of the court where two teenagers, Grace Nweke and Saviour Tui, will play their part in helping carry the shooting duties.
Nweke was an instant hit when making her debut last year while Tui has been a class act at Beko Netball League level with Central Manawa in recent seasons, both shooters ear-marked as super talents with bright futures ahead of them.
With that in mind, experienced regular shooter Bailey Mes will play a prominent role in shaping the fortunes of the Mystics shooting end this season.
“Bailey’s experience and understanding of both goal attack and goal shoot and her nature in the terms of the way she works with young people, is a real bonus for us,” Wilson said.
“She will be a big factor in helping both Grace and Saviour in their development across the two positions.”
They will also have the invaluable insight offered by former teenaged Silver Ferns shooting sensation Marg Forsyth in her role as Mystics assistant coach.
“Marg has been awesome and it’s just really good having someone who really understands what it’s like being such a young player in such a high-pressure environment,” Wilson said.
“It’s been really fun for me to have a coaching partner that’s with me fulltime and it’s also been fun for me to go from the attack end last year to the defence end this year which also adds a fresh perspective for the players.”
After encouraging results from December’s Super Club where they made the final, the Mystics have high hopes for the season ahead but are mindful of the ever-improving nature of the ANZ Premiership.
“There’s no doubt this year’s ANZ Premiership is going to be the most competitive it’s ever been,” Wilson said.
“We’re now starting to see the fruits of a few hard years of really imbedding the depth in New Zealand netball and being able to bring through the next layer and integrate the young talent with the experienced and with it producing a great brand of netball.
“We now have a genuine competitive competition, all with New Zealand players and that’s really exciting.”
Northern Mystics 2020:
Tayla Earle, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Danielle Gray, Emma Iversen, Phoenix Karaka, Bailey Mes, Grace Nweke, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Elisapeta Toeava, Saviour Tui.