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2024 Preview: New mix ready to ignite for Magic

2024 Preview: New mix ready to ignite for Magic

Retaining a solid core at both ends of the court and ably complimented by the introduction of a vibrant mix of newcomers, Avis Magic are well set to push for a change in fortune in 2024.

Backed by the experience of shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio and defenders Georgia Takarangi and Erena Mikaere, Magic have welcomed five newcomers to the blend, including exciting young shooter Saviour Tui and resilient midcourter Claire O’Brien.

Both have accrued plenty of big game experience at other franchises and will add considerable depth to the Magic campaign.

We’re rapt that the two of them have come on board and they have fitted in really nicely,” Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa said.

“They’re learning as they go along while building on what they’ve already learned from other teams, so we’re really pleased with what they bring.

They’re pretty explosive and exciting players and we’re more than happy with how they’ve connected with all the players around them.”

Mobile defender Oceane Maihi makes a return to the elite level after missing all last season with a knee injury while midcourter Ali Wilshier returns to her home Zone after spending a season with Team Bath in the UK SuperLeague.

Former training partner Reeghan de Bono gets her first fulltime ANZ Premiership contract, the talented midcourter providing the injection of youth among the newcomers.

I’m really pleased with the synergy within this group which I think has been greater than previous years,” Araroa said.

I think we’ve got a good mixture of youth and experience. They’re continually wanting to be better and we just need to keep building on the areas of trust and self-belief which are work-ons when you get a new group together.”

Coming into her third year as head coach, Araroa has presided over some disappointing returns in recent seasons but believes her accrued learnings and a positive environment are lending a crucial hand to helping push the Magic to new levels in 2024.

I do have faith and a lot of belief in this group of what they can produce,” she said.

It all comes down to the top two inches and it’s about being able to get them to perform under pressure or when they’re fatigued. And when they’re in that space, that’s where that trust and belief has to really be prominent.

So, those have been key learnings from the previous two seasons while we have gathered more learnings from this year’s pre-season outings. And what we walked away with from those matches is what we need to narrow our focus on for the start of this year’s competition.

It’s just the little things, the game awareness, discipline, sticking to our structure, decision-making and the skill-sets to be able to do those things. They’re fit and fast but it’s no good if we can’t execute, so the messaging has been about all-round strength in all elements of the game.

We’re quietly confident, but grounded after mixing some good along with some thought-provoking outcomes during the pre-season.”

Experienced, and silky-smooth, Ekenasio has retained the Magic captaincy for 2024.