Pulse's Kersten keen to meet career saviour

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 10:42 24/11/2012
Claire Kersten
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
PULSE BOUND: Claire Kersten.

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Netball

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Tomorrow can't come quick enough for Claire Kersten.

About to be pitched from relative obscurity and into the trans-Tasman Netball League for 2013, Kersten will finally get a chance to meet the woman who's turned her dreams into reality - Central Pulse coach Robyn Broughton.

At 23, and with her job as a science and biology teacher at Newlands College her main priority, the Wellington East wing defence hadn't quite called time on her trans-Tasman aspirations.

Even so, netball was starting to become more of a hobby than a career path for the 2008-09 New Zealand under-21 representative.

That all changed a few weeks ago when Pulse general manager Kyla Lange called to see if Kersten might be interested in being a trans-Tasman player next year.

A contract was quickly signed and now Kersten's keen to talk to Broughton for the first time about precisely how she forced her way into the Pulse team, having spent years toiling away on the provincial scene with Western, Otago, Canterbury and this year Wellington.

The Pulse Invitational team, which Kersten is a part of, head to Glasgow tomorrow for the six-team World Premier Club Challenge. She knows plenty of the players, but nothing of Broughton.

"So I'm really looking forward to meeting her," Kersten said.

"I'm really excited about going over there and getting a taste for that sort of level, before the [trans-Tasman] competition starts next year. That's going to be very helpful for me."

Originally from Hawke's Bay, Kersten went to secondary school in Palmerston North. That put her into the Western system, where she and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit became team-mates as third-formers, with others like Amber Bellringer and Liana Leota joining them at age-group or senior level.

Aside from getting to know Broughton, Glasgow affords Kersten a chance to stake an early claim for the wing defence spot. Katarina Cooper showed encouraging form there this year, but her slow rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament rupture basically created the spot in the squad that Kersten now holds.

Joline Henry remains, arguably, the best wing defence in the world, but was often deployed at centre by Broughton this year.

Henry expects to go back to wing defence next year, for fitness reasons as much as anything. With her first child due in January, she has no real idea how soon she'll be fit to start matches, once the trans-Tasmanbegins in late March.

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Perth's West Coast Fever, two teams from England and one apiece from Scotland and Ireland are also in next week's Glasgow tournament.

- The Dominion Post

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