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Pulse revisit the past to shape their future

The Pulse faithful will be out in force for Monday's home Grand Final. Photo: PhotoWellington

May 31, 2019

Lining up for a third tilt, what’s gone before looms large for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse as they look to secure an elusive first title in Monday’s ANZ Premiership netball Grand Final in Porirua.

A losing result was not unexpected after the Pulse made the Grand Final for the first time in their history in 2017 while a late-charging Southern Steel pinched last year’s decider to complete the double.

Wiser for the bumpy ride endured, the Pulse come into their third successive Grand Final against surprise contenders the Northern Stars with a sense of realism.

``We’re pleased with where we’ve got to, we’ve recognised winning the minor premiership is great in itself but we’ve been here before and know there are no guarantees,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

``We’ve benefitted from having those experiences in the last two years but we certainly have our eyes wide open and are fully alert to what a Grand Final can bring. We may be perceived as favourites because we’ve come through the direct route, making us No 1, but that’s an easy statement to make. None of that really counts now, it’s literally a level playing field.

``We do have things on our side like having good matches against them in the lead-up, we’ve got home venue and we’ve had less travel. All those sorts of things are positives but they don’t guarantee you anything. You’ve got to turn up and absolutely be ready.’’

With the Stars having a short-turnaround after Wednesday’s upset win over the Southern Steel in the Elimination Final, the Pulse have had two weeks to put the polish on their preparations.

The coach is pleased with how that time has been used, the opportunity to inject some rest and freshen up mentally while consolidating on what has worked well being key targets.

At a busy time, there has also been space to process outside distractions, such as, time to digest the naming of the Silver Ferns team for July’s Netball World Cup and contract negotiations for next year.

``We have planned accordingly around how to keep the intensity but trying not to peak too early and get too wound up about it too early,’’ McCausland-Durie said.

Working with the Royal New Zealand Police College throughout the season, the Pulse had a team-building session with their mentors on the Porirua campus during their last week of preparation. With mental skills experts on hand, the sessions have been valuable, providing insight into how police personnel confront and prepare for challenging circumstance and how those situations can be transposed to the high performance sporting environment.

Finally learning who they would meet in the Grand Final had helped the Pulse move into the next stage of their readiness.

``Now the Elimination Final’s complete and there’s clarity about who they’re playing, my feeling is that there’s now a level of excitement in the team,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``It’s real now. Everybody knows who we’re playing, it’s getting closer but also there’s a feeling of readiness.

``We’ve worked really hard all year, trained well this week and done everything we can. So, there’s also a recognition that they can enjoy the opportunity rather than feeling the pressure of it. We haven’t really focused too much on either the Steel or the Stars, our training has been largely about us. We have been really reflective about what has got us to this point and helped us be successful.’’

After an erratic second half to the season, the Stars made a mockery of the form guide in the Elimination Final. With six internationals in their line-up and confidence sky-high, the Stars present a dangerous obstacle.


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