Seven new faces in remodelled Tactix

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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The Canterbury Tactix will have more new faces than old for next year's trans-Tasman netball competition.

Of the 13-player squad announced yesterday, only six are survivors from this year's side, and Silver Fern Anna Thompson is the last remaining foundation player on the books.

The big signings - English captain Jade Clarke and Silver Fern squad member Julianna Naoupu - have previously been highlighted, but there are a host of younger players that coach Leigh Gibbs hopes will form the core of her team for years to come.

"What we've seen is that the teams that do well in this competition have a pretty stable playing roster," Gibbs said.

"We've made plenty of changes, but we had two retirements with Maree [Bowden] and Anna [Galvan] calling it quits, plus Kiley Hikawai having her second child, so there's three changes that were out of our control."

Ellen Halpenny has joined the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, while this year's import, Stacey Francis, has returned home and been replaced by Clarke. The underperforming Finau Pulu was not required.

"Hopefully, we can keep a stable side in the future, but it is a professional competition and things change, so you have to be realistic too," Gibbs said.

Defenders Louise Thayer (Southern Steel) and Zoe Walker (Otago) have both joined the Tactix, while wing defence-centre Kirsten Hurley will move down from Counties-Manukau.

Walker and Hurley were New Zealand under-21 players this year, as was another new recruit, Elizabeth Hayman.

Hayman was a member of the Canterbury provincial side and a Tactix train-on squad member this year.

Defender Jane Watson was also part of that squad, but through injury got on court for the Tactix.

Watson and Hayman have both been elevated to full contracts, while the train-on squad have grown from four to nine for next season as the franchise attempts to future-proof the team by developing as much of its own talent as possible.

Gibbs will have more positional options next year and more height at the defensive end.

Bessie Manu punched above her lack of height at goal keep last year, but against some teams she struggled. After impressing at provincial level at wing defence, Gibbs sees her as a genuine midcourt option, leaving Watson, Thayer and Walker at the back of the court.

None of the three is a giant, but in her brief foray on court Watson showed she had good vision and could compete at goal keep, while Thayer and Walker are both great in the air. Thayer was a nationally ranked high jumper and Walker has a volleyball background.

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There are five shooters, though Sophia Fenwick and Thompson can both branch out to wing attack.

Gibbs has not settled on a captain, though England skipper Clarke and Thompson, who did the job for Canterbury, are frontrunners.

- The Press

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