Who should the Tactix sign for next season?
With the trans-Tasman netball league grand final over, the off-season transfer window is now in full swing. The Press looks at five realistic targets that the Tactix could consider.
Kayla Cullen (Mystics): The 12-test Silver Fern did not see any court-time this year as she recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, but is worth taking a punt on. With the world championships next year, Cullen would benefit from a fresh voice and change in scenery as she looks to play her way back into the Silver Ferns frame and rediscover her best netball. Cullen is exactly the kind of player the Tactix covet. She boasts height and athleticism and would provide experience at goal defence. Cullen could also step out and cover wing defence depending on the opposition.
Bailey Mes (Mystics): Bailey Mes desperately needs to shift to another franchise if she has any aspirations of making the Silver Ferns world championship team next year. With Maria Tutaia back at the Mystics in 2015 and Cathrine Latu expected to return, opportunities in the shooting circle would be limited for Mes in Auckland. The jury is still out on whether Anna Thompson is the best long-term option at goal attack for the Tactix. If the Tactix signed Mes, they could move Thompson to wing attack, which many feel is her best position, and allow Mes to line up in the shooting end with Mwai Kumwenda. Mes also has the bonus of being able to play the wing attack position adequately.
Phillipa Finch (unattached): The dependable midcourter has returned to Christchurch to live and work, after three years with the Southern Steel. The 32-year-old may decide there is life after netball and hang up her bib. If she is still eager to be involved in the trans-Tasman netball league, the Tactix should be doing all they can to sign her up. Finch delivered the most consistent netball of her career at the Steel, which saw her gain a Silver Ferns trial last season. Her accurate passing and high work-rate on defence would be a major asset for the Tactix at centre. Finch spent her first four seasons at the Tactix.
Erena Mikaere (Steel): It is no secret, the Tactix need help in their defensive circle. Opposition shooters had it far too easy in the attacking end this season against the red-and-blacks. If the Tactix are unable to land Cullen, Mikaere would be a handy consolation prize. At 1.93 metres tall, she can match up against the competition's tall shooters and disrupt them with her long arms. In the little court-time she did get for the Steel this season, Mikaere showed promising signs. The Steel favoured a defensive combination of Phoenix Karaka and Storm Purvis to finish the season and that is only likely to continue next year. If Mikaere is serious about earning greater minutes, the Tactix would be an ideal destination for her.
Katarina Cooper (Pulse): Remember Katarina Cooper? She rose from relative obscurity during the 2013 trans-Tasman netball league with the Pulse to the Silver Ferns squad. She debuted for New Zealand against Malawi last October - her only test for the national side. Cooper was unable to break into a talented Pulse starting lineup this year and struggled for regular game time. She was so out of favour by the end of the season that she was playing club netball in Manawatu to keep up her fitness. Cooper's career is at the crossroads. If she wants one last shot at getting back into the national team, she needs to leave the Pulse. Cooper would put pressure on Hayley Saunders for the Tactix starting wing defence spot. She is also capable of slotting in at centre.