June 18, 2020
A steady as she goes approach could be overtaken by first game exuberance as teams get set for the long-awaited resumption of the ANZ Premiership netball league in Auckland tomorrow.
With the season suspended indefinitely after just one round three months ago due to Covid-19, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse are jumping out of their skins to getting cracking against the Northern Stars on Sunday but there’s also a few nerves.
``Game one, no matter what’s happened pre-season, can be a bit helter-skelter because you’ve played heaps of netball and done lots of training but it’s all been against your own team-mates rather than against varied opposition every week,’’ seasoned Pulse midcourter Claire Kersten said.
``So, there’s a little bit of that apprehension. The lone game that we did get in against the Tactix (Round 1) felt a bit the same. I think once this one’s out of the way, then we’ll settle into our routine a bit more.’’
The long hiatus has brought a different feel with teams unsure of how their opponents will emerge and front up once back in competition mode. The Ōtaki pre-season tournament usually held just a couple of weeks out from the start of the league offers a glimpse of where other teams are at but that was back in February.
``This time around we haven’t had that, so there is bit more of the unknown. We know who they’ve (Stars) got, but we don’t know where they’re at, we haven’t seen them play for three months so primarily we’ve got to focus on ourselves and just be able to adapt,’’ Kersten said.
For now, the over-riding urge is to just get back on court and play.
``I think everyone is well and truly over what is almost eight months of pre-season,’’ Kersten said. ``We’re definitely ready to go but even though it’s been so long, there is still some nerves for that game one, in a different kind of a way.’’
A rock-solid component in the Pulse engine room, Kersten was confident the competition would go ahead in some shape or form but what it was actually going to look like remained an unknown. With no definitive end goal in sight, Kersten was impressed with how the Pulse players responded to training on their own during the eight weeks of lockdown.
``Not knowing when we were going to be playing and what it was going to look like complicated things a little bit and I was definitely over eight weeks of solo training,’’ she said.
``There’s only so much that you can do but everyone came back in good shape. The first few netball trainings were interesting but conditioning-wise, it was really obvious that people had put in some pretty hard work over that time.
``We did a bronco (fitness test) on day one back at training and people definitely hadn’t dropped off from where they were just before we all went away for lockdown, so players had either maintained or improved which is pretty impressive.’’
The team has had four weeks of another pre-season to prepare for the re-start and while having to do things a little differently under Level 2, Pulse trainings are more or less back in sync and with game-time on the horizon, a sense of normalcy has finally returned.
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