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Unique chemistry provides the spark for Pulse middies

Dynamic Pulse midcourters Whitney Souness, left, and Claire Kersten in action against the Stars during the pre-season tournament. Photo: PhotoWellington

March 1, 2019

Time is helping fine-tune a dynamic midcourt partnership at Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse where Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten are poised to impose themselves during the ANZ Premiership netball competition.

With a year under their belts of spearheading the attack line after Kersten made the move from wing defence to centre, the pair delivered a dazzling opening round with their finesse and precision.

While it is still early days, there is a sense that the pair, who could be likened to chalk and cheese, but for their coach are more like peas in a pod, are in the midst of something special happening.

A mix of personality and skill-set has provided the chemistry for the two Pulse fitness fanatics who will showcase their growing partnership against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Rotorua on Monday.

A late bloomer, the tireless Kersten, 29, has blossomed into a standout performer with regular court time over the past couple of years while Souness, 23, was long earmarked for a bright future but has taken time to regain her confidence after working back from a serious knee injury in 2016.

``The great thing about the combination despite Claire being new to the role as the centre is that they understand what each other does well,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

``Part of that has been around making sure that we play to the strengths that each of them has. Because they’re so diversely different in their skillset, it becomes complimentary and therefore, you don’t have two people who want to use the same space or always be feeding.

``They’re quite comfortable in their varied roles and that’s what makes it so uniquely good for us.’’

The coach also highlighted the pair’s personalities as being key to the roles they play within the team dynamics.

``They are both the types of people who like to help others,’’ she said. ``In that respect, their job is to service their shooters and to provide, and they work incredibly hard around making sure that they’re doing the best job for them, rather than it being about themselves.

``Both are understated and very grounded in their ways, they don’t have massive egos and that makes it easy for them to work for others which is a crucial role.’’

After not getting a look in during last year’s international window, Souness went back to her Kapi Mana roots and a former coach, as well as the coaching staff at the Pulse, to work on highlighted areas.

That has paid off in spades with Souness getting a call-up for the Northern Quad Series in January to put her in the frame for July’s Netball World Cup.

``I’m feeling really good,’’ she said. ``The team is really good and everyone else is also pushing and that makes me want to push to that extra level. It’s been good for me to challenge myself and really sharpen up on things that I haven’t really had the time to before or not really tried to before.’’

In the pivotal role of wing attack, and often double or triple marked during games, Souness shows a cool head and always seems to have the greatest commodity of time up her sleeve.

Silver Ferns selection remains there or thereabouts but is not something she obsesses over.

``It’s in the back of my mind but in the first instance, I just want to do the job here as best I can and enjoy it, and hopefully, the rest will take care of itself,’’ she said.


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