Manu's Magic time set to delay sevens switch

UP FOR THE FIGHT: Bessie Manu will stay at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, it they'll have her.
UP FOR THE FIGHT: Bessie Manu will stay at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, it they'll have her.

If the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic want her back, Bessie Manu will put off switching to sevens for another year.

The 27-year-old was set to jump codes last year, with a view to making the New Zealand side for the 2016 Olympics, before an out-of-the-blue call from new Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald had her sticking with netball.

And after one of the most enjoyable seasons of her career, Manu is hoping she can be back with the Magic for another campaign.

"I would love to come back," she said, adding that learning from "the best D [defensive]-line in New Zealand" was invaluable, and that playing for Fitzgerald was a real pleasure.

"Julie's coaching - being able to know how to get the best out of each player, not just being a one-sided coach, and going above and beyond just being a coach, and being there for you and stuff," was how Manu described it.

Manu began the season sharing the wing defence bib with Jamie-Lee Price, before Sam Sinclair was preferred in the last three matches, but despite having limited game time, Manu felt it was a successful season for her, having hit certain targets.

She indicated it was either the Magic or no other franchise.

"I think the passion that has allowed me to stay in netball is because of this team," she said. "So I'm not too sure if I'd be willing to go elsewhere, but I'll come across that if that has to happen."

Manu won't be moving back to Christchurch in the off-season, as her parents have shifted to Waiouru, with her dad in the army. So she may link up with them, or perhaps stay around Hamilton, with her contract negotiations still to get under way.

"There's not really been any talks [with the Magic] yet, just because the season's finally finished and obviously they want to get the marquee players locked in and stuff. So we'll see how it goes. I've got my fingers crossed."

If the worst came to the worst, there is always sevens.

Manu - whose brother Nasi plays for the Highlanders in Super Rugby - played rugby at school, then last year played sevens at club level and then for Canterbury.

Ironically, the Magic's trainer, Sam Chambers, trains the NZ women's sevens players who are based in Waikato.

"We've had a couple of words and stuff," Manu said. "Obviously he's trying to convert players.

"I'd definitely have to learn the game more, so that's probably a challenge there in itself.

"Sevens is probably a good start, and who knows, if that could go well, maybe rugby. But sevens is probably a bit bigger in the women's sports than rugby, you'd be able to travel everywhere around the world and stuff compared to the Black Ferns, and there's a bit more coverage.

"I don't think you could ever say no to the Olympics. I'm pretty sure it's every person's dream to be able to participate in that event. I haven't really thought about it during the whole season or anything, it probably still is a distant thought. But it's not closed."

Waikato Times