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Experience and variety feature in Pulse midcourt for 2021

After a year away, twinkle-toed midcourter Whitney Souness will make a return to Pulse colours in 2021. Photo: PhotoWellington

September 14, 2020

Three Silver Ferns squad members and a rising young teenaged talent will join forces in a well-credentialled Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse midcourt for the 2021 ANZ Premiership netball league.

Influential performers in the Pulse engine room this year, Maddy Gordon and Claire Kersten will be joined by Whitney Souness, who makes a return to Wellington after a season with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, while Paris Lokotui, after two successful seasons with the Central Manawa Beko Netball League team, makes the leap to the elite level.

Gordon, Kersten and Souness have all left their mark as top-quality midcourters, mirrored by their recent selections in the Silver Ferns squad, while multi-talented sportswoman, Lokotui, has an exciting future.

Lokotui, 18, in her first year at university, has already represented New Zealand in three different sports – netball (NZ Secondary Schools), basketball (Junior Tall Ferns) and water polo (New Zealand U16).

``We’re very pleased with the make-up of our midcourt for next year, there’s lots of balance in the quartet, giving us variety up front and at the back which is great,’’ Netball Central Director of High Performance Wai Taumaunu said.

``There’s probably more variety up front than we had this year. We’re incredibly fortunate with the variety, balance and flexibility in the quartet chosen.

``We’ve got Whitney, who’s predominantly an attacking midcourt, Claire and Paris, who’s learning the ropes, who are predominantly defensive midcourters, and, of course, Maddy, who can run all three positions. She started as a wing defence and has made a good fist of her first year at wing attack and cemented herself at centre in the Beko team, so has that incredible variety to her game.’’

Lokotui, who has been a Pulse training partner, was last year among the second wave of 12 young sportswomen named as part of the Tania Dalton Foundation which supports talented young sportswomen. The programme provides girls with opportunities to connect with like-minded athletes and experienced mentors.

After starting out as an in-circle defender, Lokotui has been effectively re-modelled into primarily a wing defence/centre while adding cover at goal defence.

``She’s not tall enough to stay in the circle and has worked really hard on her conditioning,’’ Taumaunu said. ``She started as a goalkeeper, has worked her way out to goal defence and now to wing defence/centre with improved conditioning. She’s a very, very tough competitor.’’

Incoming coach Gail Parata couldn’t be happier with the make-up of her midcourt.

``I’m very excited with the variety we’ve got across those positions,’’ she said. ``Three of them can pretty much play across the three positions, so we’ve got really great cover in that area with that line-up of talent.

``There’s absolutely a lot of firepower in there. The other thing is that Whitney and Claire have been around for a number of years, have worked together before, so have that connection already and what Maddy has done in one year playing up the front end of our attack has been really exciting.

``So, we have lots of options and that’s what I’m most excited about.’’

In looking for more court time in her bid to make the NZU21 team for the Netball World Youth Cup, midcourter Renee Savai’inaea has chosen to explore her options further afield.

Confirmed Pulse players for 2021:
Maddy Gordon, Claire Kersten, Paris Lokotui, Whitney Souness.



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