Mystics win bidding war for Byfield

BY PENNY MILES
Last updated 05:00 23/10/2009

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Cultural differences which in some way led to Jamaican import Althea Byfield's topsy-turvy season with the Pulse can be reconciled at the Northern Mystics next year, says Mystics management.

The Auckland side has won the bidding war for the powerful Jamaican defender at the expense of the Pulse.

Mystics coach Te Aroha Keenan said negotiations with Byfield began in August, while Pulse chief executive Bridget Abernethy said she had exhausted all options to re-sign the Jamaican.

Keenan now boasts an international defence line of Byfield, Joline Henry and Larrissa Willcox to complement Temepara George, Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu in attack.

She acknowledged she was aware that Byfield had struggled to settle in Wellington.

"We discussed that with her when we met," Keenan said. "There has to be an understanding that she does come from a different culture and we need to appreciate that."

Byfield's turbulent induction last March included immediate demands to Pulse management that she shift from pre-arranged accommodation at a team-mate's house.

Private housing was organised in Thorndon, but Byfield's woes continued as she struggled to fill in the hours of the day.

Keenan was confident she could provide the right environment away from the court. "We've got to do some homework and make sure that she's happy."

Byfield's problems in Wellington were compounded after an on-court tumble in May that forced her to sit out a third of the season with concussion symptoms. She told The Dominion Post late in the season that she had suffered constant headaches, was bored and could not wait to return home.

Byfield's application to play with the Mystics is awaiting approval from Netball New Zealand.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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