Tactix attacker relishes elite netball play

Last updated 22:38 18/04/2008
CALM APPROACH: Tactix goal attack Anna Thompson has made a solid start in the ANZ Championship.

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Pending match-ups against international defenders Mo'onia Gerrard, Joline Henry and Sonia Mkoloma could be enough to give Tactix goal attack Anna Thompson nightmares.

Not so.

Thompson has been sleeping soundly after a solid start in the ANZ Championship and dreaming of playing against some of the game's best.

"You look at them and think, `Oh my God, what class players'," Thompson said. "But instead of worrying about what they're doing, I need to worry about how I'm going to play.

"I know they're there and they'll be tough for the full 60 minutes, but I just have to focus on my strengths."

The 21-year-old said the new trans-Tasman competition was the chance some had been waiting for to mix it with international netballers.

"What an experience to be playing against some of these players. So for me, it's just exciting."

Thompson has been a talking point of the well-groomed Tactix side, which has two wins from the opening two rounds.

She has been a settling influence in a star-studded front court, her calm approach catching the eye of commentators and fans.

Not that it has always been that way.

"I think in previous years I haven't been as calm and let the heat of the moment get to me," she said. "It has just been about focusing on what I have to do and not worrying too much about other bits and pieces going on."

The New Zealand A squad member puts her new-found confidence down to experience and her team-mates.

"It's pretty easy when you've got players around you who are making you look good as well," she said. "There's definitely not that pressure on you to do everything and you know the ball's going to be brought to you."

Despite surprising some with her impact in the goal attack role for the Tactix, Thompson is not new to the elite level in New Zealand.

She spent five years playing National Bank Cup, four of them for the Canterbury Flames.

But the born and bred Christchurch woman was after a change of scenery last year, both on and off the court.

She headed south to start a massage therapy course in Dunedin while hooking up with the Otago Rebels. "It was really refreshing to get away and start again," she said.

But the merging of the Rebels and the Southern Sting (to form the Steel) for the new trans-Tasman competition gave her options on where her netballing future lay.

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Thompson was swayed by the familiarity of the Tactix, with new coach Helen Mahon-Stroud having guided the goal attack at both club level and Canterbury under-21.

The prospect of driving two-and-a-half hours to train in Invercargill also played a part in her decision, and although the Dunedin-based netballer still has to commute, the 45-minute flight to Christchurch was "more appealing".

Thompson is one of three former Rebels players making the weekly trip to Christchurch to train. The others are Phillipa Finch and flatmate Jodi Brown.

Thompson said seeing Brown every day was helping on court. "We sit at home and analyse the game, bounce ideas off each other and tell each other what we were doing wrong," she said with a laugh. "It's a definite bonus."

She has been relishing the chance for a regular start at goal attack, having spent her career sliding from the goalie role to wing attack.

"It has given me a different look into the circle, having played wing attack," she said. "You can appreciate the angles for the feed better and just the little stuff. But it is also nice to concentrate on the one role and have a good go at that."

Thompson wants to ensure her promising outings in the opening rounds continue. "The most exciting thing is that it is just the start, and there's so much more we can give."


- The Press

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