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Rising young Pulse defender ready to push on

Elevated to starter this year, Pulse defender Parris Mason is making the most of the opportunity. Photo: PhotoWellington

From clinching the starter’s bib to copping a suspension, exciting young Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse defender Parris Mason has added to her growth with a lively start to this year’s ANZ Premiership netball league.

Navigating her way to the frontline, the talented 21-year-old has gained the nod as the Pulse’s starting goal defence while also becoming one of five players to be suspended across the first two rounds as World Netball’s revised rules, which put a greater emphasis on player safety, have come into force.

Suspended players have an enforced two-minute spell on the sidelines, Round 3 remaining clear of infraction, but leaving Mason with some food for thought in the aftermath.

``In the build-up to our last game (Steel), I lost of bit of confidence in how I could play,’’ she said. ``It was a bit of a setback because I didn’t feel like I could play my game which was a bit of a mental block because obviously you can, you just have to be a lot smarter.

``The umpires are learning as well and after the cluster of send-offs, there seems to be a better understanding of what’s contesting and what’s genuinely dangerous. It is still evolving and that’s always going to be the way with a new rule like this.’’

Rangy and athletic, Mason first made the Pulse team in 2021, fresh out of Manukura school, before spending a year with Central Manawa in the National Netball League honing her goal defence skills. Returning to Pulse colours in 2023, Mason was a potent contributor when producing several telling cameo performances off the bench.

``I’m really grateful to be able to be in the starting seven now,’’ she said. ``I’m still trying to find my feet a bit, where I fit in and what I can bring but each week I’ve just got to keep playing my own game and keep building my strength. There are amazing people around me as well who help with that building.’’

Predominantly a goalkeeper in her school days, Mason has taken time to transition into the goal defence role since coming on board as a teenager but positive signs are emerging.

``Coming from an 18-year-old to a 21-year-old, you do grow so much in that time and inevitably I was always going to get pushed out to goal defence which was uncomfortable but now I’m really getting used to it and being able to play out there,’’ she said.

``I’m way more comfortable in the role. Obviously, if I was seven foot tall like Kells (Kelly Jackson) I’d love to be back there but I’m focussed on making the most of goal defence now.’’

Pairing with fellow defenders Jackson (goalkeeper) and Fa’amu Ioane (wing defence), Mason adds to a well-versed back three, and grateful for their experience.

``Their constant leadership just makes me lift, especially Fa’amu….she’s my right-hand man,  constantly telling me where to be,’’ Mason said. ``I appreciate her so much and her guidance has really helped me build my game this season.

``She’s so under-rated but such a valued member of our team and does so much of the little stuff that builds us all up.’’

An accomplished basketballer, Mason made her debut for the Tall Ferns last year, but following her selection in the 2023 – 24 Silver Ferns Development squad is putting her focus into netball for the immediate future.

``Firstly, it’s about finding my feet in the Pulse and making sure that I can just have a really good, consistent season,’’ she said.

``I’m not going to be perfect all the time but if I was able to make it (squad) last year, hopefully, I can just keep building on that and with more minutes I can keep my foot in that doorway for future years.

``So, right now, I just want to concentrate on netball and really try and pursue this before I go out and think about other things to do.’’

With Maddy Gordon, who suffered an ankle injury in the last round, undergoing further assessment, and Tiana Metuarau, still working her way back from a foot injury, ruled out, the Pulse have a big challenge on their hands against the Mystics in Round 4 action in Auckland on Sunday.



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