Van Dyk revels in new team's location

Pulse netballers get stuck in to beach training

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 02/12/2013
Irene Van Dyk
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
SURF'S UP: Irene van Dyk's paddle boarding needs a little work, but she's otherwise delighted to have linked with the Central Pulse for next year.

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It hasn't taken Irene van Dyk long to realise signing for her hometown team was a good idea.

The Central Pulse's tilt at next year's trans-Tasman Netball League title began last Friday, with a goal and value-setting session, before training and touch rugby on Saturday and then a spot of surf lifesaving at a training session at Lyall Bay yesterday.

For van Dyk, who's spent a decade commuting from Wellington to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, it was absolute bliss.

"After our session on Friday night, we finished about 7 or 7.30, and I could hop in the car and go home," van Dyk said, with trademark animation yesterday.

"I was like 'oh my God, I'm going home. Does anyone need a ride, because I'm going home' and it was so different. For the last 10 years I was the one that was like 'oh, just drop me at the hotel' and now all of a sudden I can actually go home."

It seems a small thing, but the recent situation with England cricketer Jonathan Trott was a reminder that athletes can't perform at their peak unless they're happy.

For van Dyk and some of her new Pulse team-mates, the weekend also marked the beginning of a campaign they hope will finish with a Commonwealth Games gold medal in August.

The Silver Ferns fly out for their offseason tour to Scotland and England on January 8 and while the last few weeks have been the players' prescribed down time for the year, van Dyk has continued training. At 41, she feels days off do her more harm than good.

Besides, she's got a goal shoot bib to wrest back from Cathrine Latu during January's tests against England and Scotland.

But as much as she's looking forward to her season with the Pulse, which begins for real against the Adelaide Thunderbirds on March 3, van Dyk already gets butterflies in her stomach every time she thinks about New Zealand's Commonwealth Games title defence.

The Silver Ferns had an indifferent 2013 and can't produce the same next year.

"The good thing is that we haven't hit our straps and everyone's going 'what do we have to do to actually play good netball?' We know we're going to get punished if we don't so it's at the back of everyone's mind that what we're doing isn't good enough at the moment. It's just not good enough," she said.

It remains to be seen how good the Pulse will be next year. Van Dyk was joined by fellow newcomers Gemma Hazeldine and Elias Shadrock over the weekend, with import Ama Agbeze and Liana Leota still to arrive from England.

After yesterday's paddle board races and beach sprints, it's back to netball-specific stuff for the Pulse this week, with the team re-assembling for training on Wednesday.

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