In stark contrast to last year's off-season, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic squad has a settled look about it and is quickly taking shape for 2015.
With nine new faces in this year's playing group of 13, along with new coaches, it took the Magic the best part of three months from the end of last season to confirm their squad. But this time it's looking like being done and dusted within a month.
The new-look Magic surprised with their run to this year's preliminary final. Now they are set to retain the bulk of those who served them well.
With coach Julie Fitzgerald and assistant Margaret Forsyth back for the second year of their two-year contracts, the Magic also have five players in the same boat - Casey Kopua, Leana de Bruin, Jo Harten, Ellen Halpenny and Jamie-Lee Price.
In this competition the multi-year contract is generally the exception rather than the rule, but the Magic's forward-thinking is set to reap them benefits.
With their two key attacking and defensive weapons sewn up, the focus will be on their midcourt makeup.
Grace Rasmussen should be back in the fold after a stellar season, while young Sam Sinclair showed promise, ousting Price and Bessie Manu for the wing defence bib late in the season.
The big question remains around whether Courtney Tairi will be retained or whether the Magic will try to replace her with Laura Langman, who is open to coming back after a disappointing season at the Northern Mystics.
That would bring a stronger work ethic, more solidity and a wiser head to the midcourt.
It looks like the possibility of getting Joline Henry is slim and she's likely to stay at the Central Pulse if coach Robyn Broughton's return is confirmed.
Fitzgerald isn't saying who the Magic are chasing, but indicated she's content with how things stand anyway.
"There won't be a lot of change to our squad," she said.
Slightly different from this season is that teams next year will only be allowed to contract 12 players.
That won't affect the Magic much, with Brooke Leaver and Katherine Coffin not seeing any game time anyway, while Jo Trip and Malia Paseka got on court just a bit.
Fitzgerald said there will be an even clearer picture of the squad in the coming days.
She will probably be interested in checking out her fringe players when they take part in the national under-23 championships from July 7-10.
"I would certainly like to have it wrapped up by Commonwealth Games," she said, with that starting a fortnight later.
- Waikato Times
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