Pregnant or not, Joline Henry has never struggled to get to the point.
So the mum-to-be's response to a simple question about how she is came as no surprise.
"I'm getting fat, if that's what you mean," Henry said from her home in the Waikato yesterday.
The 30-year-old Central Pulse midcourter is due to have her first child in January, two months before the start of the trans-Tasman Netball League season. Henry continues to train most days, with her only concession to pregnancy being that she rarely goes to the gym now.
"I get a few looks, which probably aren't well received," she said.
Swimming, walking and cycling are the mainstays of a programme designed to minimise the time it takes Henry to return to peak condition next year.
"My intention is to be ready to go for the first game [against Adelaide on March 24]. Obviously it's going to take me a little while to get into the form that I'm normally in, but I expect to be all guns blazing for the majority of the time," she said.
Vice-captain of the Pulse this year, Henry has retained that position for a 2013 campaign she believes the team can approach with confidence.
"It's great that we'll have more depth to call on," she said.
"[This year] when situations got tough, I thought we were found wanting, particularly certain individuals within the team. Unfortunately for them, we couldn't support them as well as they needed to be supported, because we had our hands full with our own jobs.
"So it'll be good to field a strong seven who are all capable of being world-beaters."
The most interesting addition to next year's mix is shooter Donna Wilkins. Aside from still being an outstanding player, at 34, Wilkins is cut from a similar cloth to Henry.
Both players set extremely high standards and demand similar from their team-mates.
"Absolutely, and I'm all for playing with players like that," Henry said. "I expect us to butt heads a couple of times, but I'm sure it will only be for the betterment of the team."
That's all in the future. The immediate past was highlighted by some of the few Silver Ferns tests Henry has missed since her debut in 2004.
She was "heartened" to see New Zealand beat Australia in the Constellation Cup but, overall, felt "they could've been a bit more polished" this year.
"But it just reaffirmed, when I was watching the games, how much I did enjoy it and how much I do miss it and reaffirmed the whole notion that I have something to give and that that's where I want to be.
"I thought Wai [coach Waimarama Taumaunu] did really well and individuals really stood up, in the likes of Leana de Bruin and Maria Tutaia. Katrina Grant had an outstanding international season, which carried on from her ANZ champs form.
"I thought Millie [Lees] had a couple of good games. She was a little bit inconsistent, but the fact is we've seen her do it once, so we know she's capable of doing it again."
Henry wasn't too bothered about missing the Fast5 World Series, though.
"No, bugger that. I want to play in the big stuff. The reason I want to come back to the international scene is to play those New Zealand-Australia games and those New Zealand-Australia finals.
"That's the driving force."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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