December 5, 2019
Despite its pre-season billing, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have no thoughts about holding back as they look to defend their Netball Super Club title, starting in Nelson on Sunday.
Into its third edition, the staging of this year’s Super Club was delayed because of the Netball World Cup (held in July) and has slightly different variables this time around due to its timing and the teams involved.
All six New Zealand ANZ Premiership teams along with the well-credentialled Collingwood Magpies (Australia) and Wasps (England) will assemble for what is shaping as a top-quality week of netball.
``We’re taking 12 players because it’s a tournament environment but making no commitments that everybody’s going to get equal time,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.
``We would like the opportunity to expose people but we’re there to perform and we want an outcome which is to chase that title and to play the best we can.’’
With all teams deep in preparation mode for their respective 2020 seasons, the Pulse coach expects standards to be high and she’s pleased with the timing of the tournament and where her players are placed since coming together in early November.
``There’s been really good steady improvement every week,’’ she said. ``We’ve had five weeks together the conditioning results have gone up with a number of people going up another level this week.
``In terms of understanding around each other, the fact that we’ve got continuity of players has made a significant difference and the new players (Renee Savai’inaea and Kelly Jury) have settled in quickly, so there’s not a lot of change in terms of where we’re at.
``Structurally, we’re getting there, around game play and game plans but we haven’t been pushing that too hard at this stage, the focus being more on skill-set…….strength and conditioning, foot work, ball skills, placement and those types of things.’’
Progressing favourably after undergoing a second shoulder reconstruction, new recruit Jury will travel with the team but won’t be playing. The willowy defender is on course to start contact and contest work in January.
``She’s tracking really well and it’s important we have her there,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``She’s part of our contracted team, she’s a new member and being away together there’s some really neat stuff that goes on, so we’re keen for her to be engaged.’’
Training partners Paris Lokotui and Salote Taufu will also be part of the team at Super Club.
``The timing of Super Club has given us a real focus in this pre-season block,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``It gives us a check point and provided a motivating factor for players between now and the start of the ANZ Premiership in March to realise what work still needs to be done.
``And there should be at some point in the performances, some affirmation about the work that they have done and where they’re at. It’s equally good to have that and they need to know they’ve got strengths and as a group that we’ve got a really good base to work from but not to stay dormant and to make sure we’re accelerating and improving.’’
The tournament structure comprises of two pools of four teams ahead of semi-finals (Thursday) and finals day on Friday, December 13.
The Pulse open their campaign against the Northern Mystics at 6.35pm on Sunday.
Karin Burger, Aliyah Dunn, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maddy Gordon, Kelly Jury, Claire Kersten, Paris Lokotui, Tiana Metuarau, Katrina Rore, Renee Savai’inaea, Salote Taufa, Elle Temu.
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