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Icing on the cake for dynamic Pulse duo

ANZ Premiership Player of the Year, Maddy Gordon with the Casey Kopua Trophy

Two of the best in the business, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse defensive diva Kelly Jackson (nee Jury) and midcourt dynamo Maddy Gordon have been honoured for their performances across the 2023 netball season.

In acknowledging the sport’s standout players, coaches, umpires, administrators and volunteers at the 2023 New Zealand Netball Awards, Jackson capped another stellar season, both domestically and on the international front, to claim the Dame Lois Muir Supreme Award for 2023.

Producing a compelling 2023 domestic season, Gordon was awarded the Casey Kopua MVP in winning the ANZ Premiership Player of the Year as the pair were rewarded for their perseverance.

Jackson backed up a rare achievement after sharing the sport’s top accolade with shooter Grace Nweke in 2022 to be recognised as the best netballer across all competitions and campaigns in her own right in 2023.

``I was very surprised but obviously very honoured,’’ she said. ``2022 was such a big year for me and I put that extra bit of pressure on myself to back that up with my performances in 2023.

``To win it twice is very special and any recognition as huge as this is something I’m very proud of. I’m not one to enjoy the spotlight and being the centre of attention makes me a little bit uncomfortable but I’m really proud of myself and excited to be able to share this with my friends and family.’’

In a double cause for celebration, Jackson recently celebrated her marriage to long-time partner Cam.

With four years under her belt in Pulse colours, Jackson, the quiet achiever, has continued to set the highest of standards through her consistency of performance and leadership qualities.

Going from strength-to-strength, Jury has revelled in her time with the Pulse and credits those around her with the on-going progress being achieved.

``It’s a very growth-focussed environment where you’re always wanting to be better and we’ve got such an awesome support team, both within the team and around the team,’’ she said.

``I work closely with Ans (Pulse coach, Anna Andrews-Tasola) and Wai (Taumaunu, Netball Central High Performance Director) while Yvette (McCausland-Durie, former Pulse coach) has also been a huge influence in my career since I joined the Pulse and I can’t thank them enough in what they’ve done for me and how they’ve progressed my netball career.

``I also reflect on the incredible players that I’ve been fortunate enough to play with, particularly being able to share the circle with the likes of Leana de Bruin, Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore, three of the greatest defenders New Zealand, if not the world, has seen.

``So, I’m very fortunate in my career that I’ve been able to play with such legends of the game.’’

It hasn’t all been plain sailing but a rock-solid, and injury-free, 2023 highlighted Gordon’s coming of age and the abundant talent she possesses.

``I loved last year and think we had a good year. It was unlucky with our result in the Elimination Final (lost by one goal) but the team worked hard, we got along really well and that was special,’’ she said.

``Individually for me was that I had a pretty tough year in 2022, being out for half the season with a knee injury and missed out on Commonwealth Games selection, so I really targeted 2023 just to be my year.

``I worked really hard and to get recognised with this award means a lot.

``At times, I have struggled a little bit with self-belief being in this high performance environment, so this is really special for me as just a player, to know that if you put in the hard work, you can get better. And it’s a great message to send out, that if you work hard, anything can happen.

``Growing up, I never would have thought I’d be living in Wellington and I don’t regret it at all. I moved here in 2018 (from Auckland, in her first year out of school) just to play NNL and everything that’s come off it, I can’t thank the Central Zone enough.

``They’ve really believed in me and that’s the key thing. They took a chance on me, I love it down here and everyone that comes in and out of the environment, they work hard and they want to help each other, so it’s been really good.’’




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