Jodi Brown plays Magic support act to perfection
Supporting roles are becoming second nature for Jodi Brown as she combines the demands of motherhood with the planned rebirth of her international netball career.
Brown had been accustomed to being the centre of attention in the goal circle but as the 29-year-old shooter discovered, priorities can change, on and off the court.
The 29-year-old was the focal point of the Canterbury Tactix attack in the inaugural trans-Tasman hampionship in 2008, a campaign that lasted six rounds before pregnancy was a welcome intervention.
After Kiana arrived, Brown returned to Christchurch as senior shooter last year, but now she is more at home as the secondary scoring option at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, a provider for Irene van Dyk.
The prospect of playing alongside her old teammate at the Capital Shakers was irresistible, even if her scoring opportunities were going to be limited.
Brown had no problem moving with the times to Hamilton and continuing a nomadic existence that saw her based in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin during the old National Bank Cup.
She admired the Magic from afar when they made the trans-Tasman competition's playoffs in 2008-09 so when Maria Tutaia signalled a shift to Auckland, Brown was an eager replacement.
"They've always been there or thereabouts at the end of the competition. You'd always look and say 'I wish I was playing in the finals series'.
"So to have the chance to finally experience that is fantastic," Brown told NZPA ahead of Sunday's grand final against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Brown had other options but the clincher was the Magic allowing her to reside in Dunedin with husband Markham and their 18-month old daughter.
"We have lots of family support there so moving wasn't feasible," she said.
"Waikato were happy for me to commute. It's not an issue for them, Irene's been doing it for a while."
Brown's flight usually goes via Wellington, where she meets up with van Dyk - another opportunity to finesse a winning combination.
"It's taken a while but we've kind of got that spark back," she said.
"For the last five or six weeks we've been clicking nicely."
Brown's willingness to embrace the primary role as feeder for van Dyk underpins their effectiveness.
Magic coach Noeline Taurua has seen players struggle when trading the GS bib for GA.
"It's about being the supporting actress more than the lead and that can be quite difficult to take for some goal attacks," Taurua said.
Not so Brown, whose attitude fitted the team pattern perfectly.
Her ability to draw Rebecca Bulley out to prevent the NSW Swifts double-teaming van Dyk in last weekend's preliminary final was instrumental in the legendary goal shoot netting 43 of her 44 attempts.
And when van Dyk is squeezed, Brown has provided goals to maintain the Magic's momentum and keep defenders guessing. She has contributed a respectable 47/54 ratio to the Magic's current four-match unbeaten run.
"If the defence is too tight on Irene she can turn and shoot the ball without fluttering," Taurua enthused.
"One of the things we've known about Jodi is her long shot, she's always been able to shoot long distances."
Brown said van Dyk also aided her return to career-best form.
"When you put the ball in the air, nine times out of 10 she's going to get it. It gives you so much more confidence."
So much so Brown hopes to be involved in the Silver Ferns defence of their Commonwealth Games title in October - three years after taking a sabbatical to concentrate on domestic life.
A serious knee injury the day before competition started at Melbourne 2006 tarnished a golden moment for Brown; on the strength of this season she has put her best foot forward for New Delhi.