Healthy competition in Pulse ranks ahead of season-opener
May 3, 2018
A healthy rivalry for starting spots has left Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie confident of a positive outing against WBOP Magic in their ANZ Premiership netball opener in Palmerston North on Sunday.
With all six teams featuring on the same day at the same venue, the second edition of New Zealand’s elite domestic competition will get under way, the first of three Super Sunday’s sprinkled throughout the season.
The staging of the Commonwealth Games during the first half of April has meant a later start to the season, all teams without their Silver Ferns at various stages of a pro-longed pre-season. But that’s all been good news for McCausland-Durie.
``I think there’s a bubble of excitement as well as a nice level of anxiety,’’ she said of the Pulse. ``The anxiety is not about the game, it’s about wanting to be in the starting line. So, there’s some good internal competition that I can feel bubbling and that’s a good place to be at this stage.’’
Consistency, doing the basics well and being effective when under pressure is the simple approach for the Pulse first-up against a talented Magic team.
``For me, it’s around execution of what we’ve worked on and that they stick to it,’’ she said. ``If we stick to task, they’ll do really well. And that they remain absolutely relentless in what they do, just to keep pushing hard. We want to get off to a flying start, that puts pressure on teams.’’
With their Silver Ferns – captain Katrina Grant, Claire Kersten and Ameliaranne Ekenasio – only returning to the team earlier this week after a mandatory stand-down period following the Commonwealth Games, McCausland-Durie has no qualms about their ability to slot straight back in.
In a significant personal milestone, the long-serving Grant will notch her 150th appearance at the elite domestic level, against the Magic.
The Pulse face a quick turnaround when they back-up again on Monday night against the Southern Steel but that has left the coach unconcerned.
``We’ve kept really focused just on the first game,’’ she said. ``We train everyday anyway, so we don’t have a problem with backing up performances, so have kept our focus on getting a start on day one.
``I think it’s quite nice to get two games in a row, get the group running and flowing and then we’re well and truly underway.’’
Magic have a well-performed shooting duo in rising young talent Monica Falkner and prolific South African import Lenize Potgieter, a robust midcourt and rangy spoilers at the defensive end in the form of former Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua and the 1.92m Kelly Jury.
``They can create real mobility in their attacking end, have got variation in their shooting with good range, so it’s about us being alert to getting on top of them early and creating pressure,’’ McCausland-Durie said.
``They have got quite a tall defensive end, so making sure we’re clearing the hands and getting good accuracy on our pass is a key.’’
With two schoolgirls among the four talented up-and-coming teens in their ranks, the Pulse have emerged as the youngest line-up in 2018, shooter Tiana Metuarau, 17, who burst on to the scene in style last season after being called up as a replacement, is the youngest player in the competition.
Pulse 2018: Karin Burger, Aliyah Dunn, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Katrina Grant, Claire Kersten, Tiana Metuarau, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, Renee Savai’inaea, Whitney Souness.
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