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2024 Preview: New-look Stars ready to shine

2024 Preview: New-look Stars ready to shine


Embracing an influx of fresh-faced young talent, Stars coach Kiri Wills is primed for an exciting and adventurous brand of netball emanating from her new-look team in 2024.

Introducing four newcomers in shooter Rahni Samason, midcourter Emma Thompson and defenders Lili Tokaduadua and Khanye’-Lii Munro-Nonoa, the Stars also welcome back familiar faces in former team members Kate Burley (defender) and Lisa Mather (midcourter).

“You always worry when you have massive change especially when you’ve lost some very good quality players but I’ve been very, very impressed with how these young ones are stepping up,” Wills said.

“They’re taking every opportunity and we’ve had some great results in the pre-season, so I view it as a really cool, exciting, new-look Stars that’s coming out to play this year.

“Our challenge with these young ones is to help them grow and develop their game without crushing the spontaneity that they bring and their natural instincts for the game.

“The other thing is they’re grateful for the opportunity and they want to make it work for themselves and for the team. They’ve brought a vibrancy and a new youthful energy. It’s a real breath of fresh air and I’m really looking forward to the season.”

The Stars will have new personnel across all areas of the court but have stability in the solid core of shooters Maia Wilson and Amorangi Malesala and midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Holly Fowler. The defensive end will be completely new for the Stars in 2024 but the return of the well-performed Burley will add much-needed experience.

The Stars have a strong international flavour with former Victorian state age-group and Vixens representative Samason, Thompson, who has also played in the Australian system, and young defender Tokaduadua, originally coming to Howick College from Fiji on a scholarship, all adding to their vibrant cultural mix.

They all bring a different flavour on the court while off it, there’s just a nice mix of different people,’’ Wills said.

It’s probably quite representative of the area that we represent in South Auckland, which is very multicultural and our team’s very, very representative of that.

We offer a little bit of the unknown and other teams don’t know anything at all about some of our players, so I think we are going to be the surprise package of the competition.

I’ve got options, I’ve got different styles of play that I can put out on court and that’s going to surprise a few people, I think.

And I think, other players sometimes don’t take the younger players seriously enough but these young ones in our team have got some games, so we’re looking forward to putting it out there.”

A big fan of the one game a week format for this season, Wills said it allows extra time for a more thorough review of the game prior and for previewing the next game, and is expecting a higher quality product as a result.

Wilson will remain the Stars captain with Reuelu-Buchanan stepping up to the vice-captaincy role while Fowler also forms part of the leadership group.