Desperate Central Pulse need star duo to start

KEY PLAYER: Donna Wilkins in action for the Central Pulse.
KEY PLAYER: Donna Wilkins in action for the Central Pulse.

Robyn Broughton is certain any hopes of beating the Queensland Firebirds hinge on Donna Wilkins and Liana Leota.

But what the Central Pulse coach can't say is whether the pair will be fit to start Saturday's Trans-Tasman Netball League clash on the Gold Coast.

The Pulse have to win to stand any chance of sneaking into the league playoffs, but might have to do so with Wilkins and Leota again spending the odd quarter on the bench.

"That ankle injury [of Wilkins'], we've still got to watch that and Liana's the same," Broughton said yesterday.

"We've got to judge it right and we judged it right last weekend [when the pair came on at halftime in the win over the Northern Mystics] but it would be nice if they were just all OK. Especially Donna with all her experience and that mental approach, that hard-nosed ‘don't touch me, I'll give you one' type of thing.

"Liana, I just always value the way she keeps her head. It is hopeful [they'll start] but I can't tell you where they might be by Saturday."

The Pulse are too good to be in this sudden death situation but they are, and now simply they have to get on with it, Broughton said.

Fourth-placed Firebirds are immediately above the Pulse on the table and possess two genuine stars in Laura Geitz and Romelda Aiken, plus the highly-promising Kim Ravaillion.

"There's going to be good match-ups. Irene [van Dyk] will have Geitz and how she performs is up to her [because] it's a mental state as well as physical and she'll have to stand up to it and it won't be easy, especially in her [Geitz's] home town," Broughton said.

"Then there's [Jacinta] Messer up against Donna and they've got a speedy young midcourt, but they make errors and we'll have to be ready to pounce on them.

"Of course we've got the strength in our Ds . . . so it's a real challenge for us but I think it's exciting and we should be really relishing and embracing that sort of thing."

Rather than lamenting the fact they're facing a premature end to what should have been the Pulse's most successful season yet. Instead, soft defeats and a sluggish start make it highly probable the Pulse will match last year's finishing position of fifth.

"If I close my eyes I can still see the Adelaide one [in which the Pulse were beaten 45-44] and the same with the Tactix [who beat them by two goals]. Everyone has to take responsibility for those sorts of things, but if they happen they happen," Broughton said.

"I mean look at the Crusaders [losing to the Sharks] the other night. So you just don't know when it's going to implode."