The curtain appears as if it might be about to come down on Donna Wilkins' glittering netball career.
At 35 Wilkins has arguably been the best goal attack in the trans-Tasman Netball League this year – certainly the best of the New Zealanders.
But real life beckons and the former Silver Fern says she can make no commitments to the Central Pulse beyond Monday's home clash with the Canterbury Tactix and their final game of the season against the Southern Steel at Invercargill on June 23.
Wilkins has three children under five and, at some point, they will become her sole priority.
"I don't know what I'm going to do [next year]," Wilkins said.
"I've told Rob [Pulse coach Robyn Broughton] the same, I've told a couple of the girls the same. I want to try and get through this year first and then sit down with [husband] Mike and work out the best thing.
"I always thought when [eldest child] Cooper started school that would be it and I'd need to spend some time with the kids and he starts this year, at the end of November.
"So I don't know and I'm getting older. I know I could do another year, but I just don't know if it's something I want to do."
Broughton is more than just a coach to Wilkins. The two women are close friends as well and Broughton has been trying to persuade Wilkins to give it one more year.
"She said 'I don't know how long I'll play, I'm getting past it'. I said what are you going on about it. You're a mature player now, which is much better," Broughton said.
"I think she should do it because she's a competitor and it's part of her life. However it's not my business to be telling people how they should be living their lives."
But if anyone has some influence where Wilkins is concerned, then it's Broughton.
"I'd like to think I've got a bit," she said, chuckling.
The final outcome of the Broughton-Wilkins discussions is still to be determined, but one coach who's already been told "no thanks" is Silver Ferns boss Waimarama Taumaunu.
"I think I have the ability to play at that level, but I don't know [about being available]. I said this to Wai last year, I don't know if I can put in the dedication needed to represent your country," she said.
"I have a husband and three kids and that demands my attention, whereas somebody that doesn't have a husband and three kids they can put their whole focus on doing what they do best and that's playing netball.
"Yes I think I've got the ability to do that regardless, but I can't commit. Last year they wanted me to commit for three years and I can't do that with a young family."
Wilkins' then-Steel team-mate Jodi Brown could, earning a spot as Maria Tutaia's back-up. It's debatable whether Wilkins would be a better bet than Tutaia at international level, but there's no doubt that she outshines her when it comes to franchise level.
- The Dominion Post
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