Court time for everyone, says Atkins

Even though he found the recipe for success last week, Western coach John Atkins isn't ruling out tinkering with his side.

Western have their second game of the national provincial championship, away on Sunday against Eastern in Napier, and are chasing their second win.

Atkins said they have options right through the squad and all the players who got on court last week showed they have something to offer the team.

"Last week we got 11 on court. We have an expectation that if you're available, expect to get on court."

Just because Western won does not mean he will stick with the same starting side, including Central Pulse players Amber Bellringer and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, who could see some bench time.

Even though he wanted to build combinations, Atkins wanted to make sure all his players could make the grade.

"I think making sure that everybody has some court time will make that happen," Atkins said. "Amber had half a game last week, Te Huinga had a full game. That situation may reverse."

Atkins felt they have a good enough core group to get the team over the line, including Taranaki players Erika Maifea, Chantelle Ngaia and Lauren Burgess.

Danielle Grey, 16, got court time against Southland and Jenna O'Sullivan, 19, also made her debut.

"It's important to make sure the bench players getting court time in the event they are called upon due to injury or whatever reason," Atkins said. "Full confidence with what they're doing."

Including their pre-season match against Wellington, they had only two proper games together. Atkins said they were still feeling their way and getting used to each other. "We're obviously hoping for some improvement. Certainly working on our ball retention and reducing errors."

Shooters Bellringer and Ngaia didn't miss a shot last week and Rebecca Jury only missed two, statistics which would make Atkins' job easier if they continue. "That might be unrealistic to expect that rate to stay up at 96 per cent."

Because of the geography of the Western region, with players in Taranaki, Manawatu and Horowhenua, it was hard for them all to train together but the side is having a training session tomorrow in Napier.

Eastern were another unknown quantity for Atkins but they do have two former Manawatu players in the squad, Briar Chalmers (Feilding) and Rhiarna Ferris (Tu Toa).

Eastern lost to North 71-26 in the first round in Onewa.

Western: (from) Chantelle Ngaia, Amber Bellringer, Lauren Burgess, Sheridan Bignall, Erika Maifea, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Jenna O'Sullivan, Rebecca Jury, Whitney Cassidy, Miriama Selby-Rickit, Danielle Gray, Heidi Kiser.

Eastern: (from) Leykin Rowlands-Huirama, Briar Chalmers, Kataraina Rowe, Rhiarna Ferris, Candis Cardie, Bianca Lloyd-Jones, Taylor Greening, Rhandell Tuala-Fata, Eleanor Bird, Pania Rowe, Millie Ironside, Cheleme Smilar-Ah Kiong.

Manawatu Standard