Relentless Pulse looking for more improvement
April 9, 2019
Fresh off a season best performance, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have raised the stakes for their top-of-the-table ANZ Premiership netball clash against the Southern Steel in Dunedin tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
Setting the pace through the first half of the season, the Pulse reinforced their credentials with a rollicking 26-goal win over the Northern Stars to cement their standing at the top of table and now face a litmus test against the defending champions on their home turf.
The Pulse drew first blood against their southern rivals just over two weeks ago but the Steel are an entirely different prospect at home and will have a strong resolve to square the ledger.
For the Pulse, there is a constant drive to be better, last line of defence Sulu Fitzpatrick expecting a blockbuster but confident her team is tracking well.
``At this stage of the season, we want to push each other even harder to be able to raise to that next level because heading towards the business end, the nature of everything changes,’’ she said.
``The Steel are very safe with the ball, so I’m expecting a low error rate, and they’re smart. They’re a team that know how to win and they have been winning, so you can’t give them a sniff.’’
Since joining the Pulse last year, the 26-year-old custodian has continued her resurgent form with a string of storming performances. The leading rebounder in this year’s competition, Fitzpatrick is a consummate team player, just happy to be playing her part in a rock-solid Pulse defence line.
``I definitely feel I’ve been more consistent over the last two seasons to any other year,’’ she said. ``That probably comes with age and knowing yourself. I’m enjoying the game a lot more and I guess when you’re in a bit better shape, you’re in a position to be able to play more consistently.
``For me, as long as our team is doing well and our defensive unit is doing well, I’m happy. I’m very happy with how our defensive unit is going. I feel we’re very connected and that’s key as a defensive unit because that’s how you’re going to get ball.’’
Playing in Wellington has meant sacrifices for the personable mum, her five-year-old twins Tevita and Theresa remaining with family in Auckland while Fitzpatrick has pursued her netball dream.
``I have loved it here with the Pulse,’’ she said. ``They really support me being a mother and a netballer. It could have been a different experience but I am able to do both and I’m really grateful for that. They are very much family.
``I talk to my kids every day. Thank goodness for FaceTime, I couldn’t do without that or my parents and my partner who do a wonderful job with the kids. They’re happy and they’re enjoying school, so that’s the biggest thing.’’
While not quite the same, Fitzpatrick lends a motherly hand to teenaged team-mates Maddy Gordon and Aliyah Dunn, the trio residing together in the Pulse house during the season.
``It’s lovely……me and the two young trouble-makers,’’ Fitzpatrick mused. ``It’s going great and they keep me on my toes. Being away from my children and having them as my Pulse kids is great.’’
In terms of Silver Ferns selection for the upcoming World Cup, Fitzpatrick has a pragmatic outlook.
``My focus first and foremost is here with the Pulse,’’ she said. ``You always have aspirations but I think all you can do is put your best foot forward and focus on being your best in every moment. And whatever happens, happens. You can’t control anything but yourself.
``You can be a good energy to other people. I really, really want the best for our team and we have a lot of girls who can push for those Silver Ferns spots. For me, a focus is pushing them the best I can to prepare them to have the best chance possible. I just want the best for them so if that can happen, then I’ll be happy.’’
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