Kayla Cullen's fitness boosts Northern Mystics

Last updated 17:55 12/05/2011
Kayla Cullen
BEN WATSON/North Shore Times
ANOTHER GONG: Kayla Cullen's dream season with the Northern Mystics continued when she was named the trans-Tasman netball league's best young player.

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Young All Star Kayla Cullen today declared herself fit to go for the Northern Mystics' trans-Tasman netball league showdown with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in Hamilton on Sunday.

The teenage defender suffered calf cramps in the Mytics' win over the NSW Swifts last weekend and coaching staff didn't have her out on court for the duration of a training game in Auckland this afternoon.

Cullen, 19, said afterwards that she felt fine and was good to play in the preliminary final against the Magic.

"They restricted me to half a game but it's feeling good,'' she said.

"They're just trying to keep me off it a bit.''

Cullen, an ever-present for the Mystics this season, was yesterday named in the inaugural ANZ Championship All Star team.

She admitted she was surprised to be voted the league's best wing defence.

"There are some big names in the team,'' she said.

"I'm just really happy to be part of it all...and quite surprised, yes.''

Cullen is the youngest of the All Stars and one of two yet to play test netball, along with Adelaide wing attack Emily Beaton.

She is also one of three New Zealanders among the chosen seven, along with team-mate Anna Scarlett at goal defence and Southern Steel goal keep Leana de Bruin.

The combination between Cullen and the more experienced Scarlett has been a feature of the Mystics progression to being one of three teams still alive in the competition.

"I think me and Anna have formed a little of a connection there,'' Cullen said.

"I love playing with Anna. She makes my job a lot easier.''

A notable participant in the Mystics' training game was Canterbury Tactix shooter Anna Thompson, who last week was added in the New Zealand squad for the world championship in Singapore in July.

Thompson replaced Mystics shooter Cathrine Latu, who was ruled ineligible because she hadn't completed the stand-down period after representing Samoa at the last world tournament in 2007.

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said Thompson was in Auckland for a Netball New Zealand camp and the Mystics took the opportunity to have her run against them.

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