Wherever Madison Browne goes, Joline Henry will be sure to follow.
Far and away the Melbourne Vixens' best player, Browne has chopped and changed between wing attack and centre all season.
For the Central Pulse to have any chance of beating the Vixens at Te Rauparaha Arena tonight, Henry must shut Browne down.
Once an out-and-out wing defence, Henry has played at centre in the past four matches, in a tactic that was initially employed to intimidate Adelaide Thunderbirds centre Natalie von Bertouch.
In anticipation that Browne will start at wing attack tonight, Pulse coach Robyn Broughton has hinted Henry will revert to her specialist position.
"She [Browne] has the most centre passes and she gets the most second phases and she gets the most feeds, so I'll have to have a look at what I do there," Broughton said in relation to negating Browne's league-leading stats.
Of course, if Browne lines up at centre, then Henry might well too.
Certainly, having her there has improved the Pulse's attack out of sight, while Katarina Cooper's performances at wing defence have been such that Waimarama Taumaunu told The Dominion Post last week she was now a Silver Ferns contender.
Outside of Browne, Broughton said she wasn't all that impressed with the Vixens, despite them starting this round second on the table.
"They are fragile in places," Broughton said.
"Their shooters are up and down, and they don't seem to have a regular combination, so you never know who's going to be on or off. They change their Ds around a lot too."
Having the previous round off has definitely freshened up the Pulse players.
Being out of the playoff picture also appears to have lightened their load and the team is approaching tonight's match, and Sunday's season-concluding clash with the West Coast Fever, in a relaxed mood.
In fact there's an end-of-school-term type feel to the whole thing, which is good in a way.
In another, it just underlines what a joke it was that the team had to play 11 games before they got a week off.
With so little of the campaign left, the bye's been of virtually no benefit, other than to give the players a few much-needed days away from each other.
"It's terrible, they [the league organisers] should have looked at it at the beginning. It's huge, that was too long, it was awful," Broughton said.
Elsewhere, Wellington's favourite netballer, Irene van Dyk, underlined her star quality by shooting 41 from 42 as her Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic team knocked the Thunderbirds off the top perch, with a commanding 59-42 win on Saturday.
Pulse (from): Katrina Grant (c), Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Joline Henry, Camilla Lees, Katarina Cooper, Paula Griffin, Caitlin Thwaites, Victoria Smith, Daya Wiffen, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, Jamilah Gupwell, Amber Bellringer
Vixens: Geva Mentor, Bianca Chatfield, Julie Corletto, Chelsey Tregear, Madison Browne, Tegan Caldwell, Karyn Howarth, Micaela Wilson, Sarah Wall, Kasey Stanaway, Ashlee Howard, Kate Beveridge
- © Fairfax NZ News
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