Commentator’s Call: Teams look to shine on Super Sunday
If ever there was a time for players to perform, it’s now as the 2019 ANZ Premiership gets set to begin with July’s Netball World Cup looming in the background.
Some athletes may already be making sure their passports are up to date, while Silver Ferns head coach Noeline Taurua has made it clear there’s still time for others to play their way into her squad of 12.
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel are gunning for a three-peat, having come back at the death in last year’s Grand Final to pip Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse by one goal. The Central side is once again looking like the team to beat, having made a clean sweep of the pre-season tournament in Ōtaki. But it’s dangerous to put too much weight on those results when coaches are still tinkering with combinations.
News of Temepara Bailey’s return has sparked extra interest in the Stars, particularly given foundation captain Leana de Bruin is also back. But there’s another player who’s had far less fanfare. Kayla Cullen is fit – and raring to go. A knee injury has meant one of the game’s most gifted players has been on the sideline for nigh on a year. Throw in the speed of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan who will be soaking up so much from playing alongside Bailey, and the Stars are the team to watch.
The Good Oil Tactix had their best season ever last year making the Finals Series for the first time. Finding that form again without Temalisi Fakahokotau will be tough. She led all stats for intercepts, deflections and rebounds in 2018. In fact, her 55 intercepts were eight clear of Rore who was next best. Because she and the equally dynamic Jane Watson won so much ball, the Tactix shooters will need to lift their numbers in 2019.
The Mystics are hard to get a gauge on. Gone are two of the greats in Maria Folau and Anna Harrison. How Helene Wilson uses their replacements may well dictate the team’s progress. One is the 1.96m Kristina Brice who’s made the move from the New South Wales Giants. The returning Erena Mikaere will provide a 1.92m bookend in the defensive circle.
The Splice Construction Magic the only side with a new coach. Last year’s assistant Amigene Metcalfe steps up to the lead role. Injury ravaged the Waikato Bay of Plenty side last year and it’s no coincidence they didn’t win another game after losing Casey Kopua in Round 9. She, Kelly Jury and Sydney Fraser are all back this year and will be hoping for better fortune.
It all starts in Hamilton on Sunday with a feast of netball.
The Steel have three of the best shooters in the country with Selby-Rickit, Jen O’Connell and the newly acquired Lenize Potgieter. How they use them will be interesting. Either which way, expect the Stars to give them a run for their money in the opening game.