Irene Van Dyk is relaxed about being written off - just not on the basis of her age.
The Central Pulse and Silver Ferns goal shoot turns 42 next month and isn't coming off the greatest game of her illustrious career. But that doesn't mean her skills are diminishing.
Pulse coach Robyn Broughton said this week she feels sorry for van Dyk, given the way her shooter is practically beaten to a pulp every time she takes the court. Players in her position are more prize fighters than netballers these days and it takes broad shoulders to stand up to that.
Van Dyk will continue to do that, and take issue with anyone who believes she's had her time and ought to push off.
"I just wish people would stop throwing my age around. Jeez," van Dyk said yesterday.
"If I'm not good enough, then so be it. But if the coach thinks I'm good enough and I have something to offer, then I am going to put my body on the line and I am available.
"I train really hard and people keep throwing the age thing in front of me and I'm like ‘really? Really?' Tactically and technically I probably play better netball now than I did 10 years ago.
"My spatial awareness now is much better than it was but, because I'm 40-odd, people think I should go. But if Robyn wants me next year I'll be happy to stay [at the Pulse]."
Van Dyk has shot 348 goals from 385 attempts this season and might have had more if the Pulse were better at providing a regular supply of possession. That was no better illustrated than during Saturday's 60-33 defeat to the Queensland Firebirds.
"After about 10 minutes I was like ‘this is going to be the longest hour of my life'. Honestly, it was unbelievable. The ball hardly even got through and we were just completely outplayed," said van Dyk.
She was eventually replaced after a torrid time against Firebirds goal keep Laura Geitz, which included being rugby tackled. Van Dyk said she'd experienced worse against Geitz and blamed the defeat more on a lack of respect for the ball.
She was as guilty as anyone, throwing the Pulse's first possession away, which set a disappointing tone.
There's one last chance to get things right, and improve the team's dismal 0-17 record in Australia, when they meet the West Coast Fever in Perth on Monday night.
"Someone made a comment last week that we've never won in Australia and I was like ‘really? Didn't they win by default once?'," she said, in reference to season one of the trans-Tasman league when the Pulse got a draw in Perth when the roof leaked.
"Hey, anything will be better than last week's game. Honestly, I don't think we can do any worse.
"We've got the goods, we just need to go out and pass to our friends really. That would be ace."
It's worth noting that print doesn't do van Dyk justice and that she was never angry or down. There were huge pauses in her comments as she cracked herself up, with claps, shrieks and the stamping of feet to emphasise her amusement.
You'd have thought she was 22.
- The Dominion Post
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