Adelaide import Watts grasps Magic midcourt

FINDING HER FEET: Australian Khao Watts is roaming from wing attack through centre to wing defence in her debut season in the ANZ Championship on this side of the Tasman.
FINDING HER FEET: Australian Khao Watts is roaming from wing attack through centre to wing defence in her debut season in the ANZ Championship on this side of the Tasman.

Magic import Khao Watts says she has finally found her confidence in her first season in the trans-Tasman netball league.

The 23-year-old, who hails from Adelaide and was brought out of the wilderness to bolster the Waikato-Bay of Plenty team's midcourt this season, is now becoming at ease with releasing the ball to Irene van Dyk on a regular basis.

The Magic have seemingly forever longed for a couple of players to support Laura Langman in the middle third, and Watts is coming to grips with playing her part well.

In the Magic's victory over the West Coast Fever in Mt Maunganui on Sunday night, Watts showed how crucial her renowned good vision can be, with the wing attack providing some nice ball into the shooting circle, after looking confident in bringing it up court.

Before arriving at the franchise, Watts, who has played for South Australia in the Australian Netball League and has also represented the region through the under-17, 19 and 21 age groups, was predominantly a wing defence, who was adept at centre, with a bit of experience at wing attack.

However, things have changed somewhat for her, and she is beginning to understand her role in the side now, starting the last four matches in the WA bib, after being used at centre and wing defence in both of the opening games.

A big challenge for Watts has been slotting into a team which has numerous players who have played together for a long time. "They just know what they're doing together," she said. "You really just need to come in and try and complement that.

"I obviously don't want to change any of it because it's fantastic. I think it's just a matter of me finding where I fit in and just trying to slot in."

Watts has featured in every quarter for the Magic during the first six rounds of the competition, playing all but 11 minutes – when she spent time on the bench in the opening match of the season.

While the combinations have taken a while to form for the Magic this season, in their past two outings they have been far more stable in their personnel and also performance.

Van Dyk has powered on in her usual way but has been getting more quality ball, with Watts in particular playing a major role in that.

"It's something I've really been focusing on," Watts said of her combination with the world-class veteran. "She's a great target to have in the goal circle.

"I think it was just my confidence in giving the ball to her, which you do more and more of and eventually it just becomes a routine, and I look forward to doing it more and more again."

The Magic's latest display was their most convincing for a long time, as they blew the Fever off court in an energetic performance, in a major contrast to the way they had fallen away after leading matches previously this season.

"I think we always knew that we could do it and we could get the wins. It was just a matter of time, because we had been so close in all of the games that we went down," Watts said. "So once we got that first win, I think it's just a matter of doing what we do well, more often."

In making the move across the Tasman, Watts has enjoyed coming up against her fellow Australians and a familiar style of play, but is still coming to grips with the New Zealand style, which involves more width on attack and zone defences.

"I think it'd just be a matter of repetition, trying it more at training, and really putting me in pressure situations and just feeling comfortable," Watts said of becoming more accustomed to it. "So I think it'll just be a matter of doing more and more of that and once we've done that I'm sure I will find that a little bit easier."


Name: Khao Watts
Age: 23
Born: Millicent, South Australia
Height: 1.70m
Position: Wing attack, also centre and wing defence
ANZ Championship: 2012 debut season; has featured in every quarter of the Magic's six games

Waikato Times