Tactix need star signing to light way forward
For the good of the trans-Tasman netball league, the Tactix must snap up a marquee Silver Fern player this off-season.
Over the past four seasons, the Tactix have been dismal out on court, picking up three consecutive wooden spoons from 2010 to 2012, and winning just six of their 52 games.
The good news is new chief executive Brigit Hearn, coach Leigh Gibbs and the rest of the organisation are determined to break free from their turbulent past and create a winning culture.
They've already publicly said they will be doing everything in their power this off-season to land high calibre, experienced names, rather than trying to nab fringe players at rival franchises, eager for more game time.
The Tactix have made star Silver Fern trio Casey Kopua, Irene van Dyk, and Laura Langman their three leading targets for 2014, and the franchise knows this is the year they need to snap up at least one of them. They desperately need to start winning games on a consistent basis, and the first step in that process begins with recruitment and forming a solid squad who can hold their own.
It is understood the Tactix have gone after several high-profile Silver Ferns in the past few seasons, but they have been reluctant to move south.
Langman's manager, Christchurch-based lawyer Garth Gallaway, told The Press, his client isn't interested in playing for the Tactix, but could Kopua, van Dyk, or defender Leana de Bruin be tempted by a move to Christchurch?
It's difficult to imagine seeing those players lining up in a red-and-black dress next year, but the Tactix have got to aim high with recruitment, and now is the right time.
With long-serving Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Noeline Taurua stepping aside, last year's champions could potentially disband this off-season. The future of the Magic players will ultimately hinge on who they name as their new head coach.
If one of the Magic's "big four" opt for a change in scenery, there could be a domino effect, with the other players also moving on.
The Tactix need to replicate the recruitment model the Central Pulse have used for the past few seasons.
Four years ago, the Pulse were even more of a basket case than the Tactix. They then pulled off a major coup, signing Silver Fern defender Katrina Grant, which offered the struggling franchise a glimmer of hope.
Each off-season after that, they have tried to build around Grant and add players, which they have successfully done.
The following season, they snapped up Australian shooter Caitlin Thwaites, who was unhappy at the Melbourne Vixens. With the arrival of new coach Robyn Broughton in 2012, they then signed Silver Fern wing defence Joline Henry and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, before further strengthening their roster last off-season with former Ferns players Liana Leota and Donna Wilkins.
Putting a squad together in the trans-Tasman netball league is very much like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Right now, the Tactix have some useful pieces, with the likes of Jane Watson, Julianna Naoupu, Sophia Fenwick, Kirsten Hurley and Zoe Walker, but they're lacking a glamour signing with X-factor who can inspire them when the game is on the line.
You can't help but feel they are probably two or three quality players away from being able to win games regularly and challenge for the finals.
Securing a van Dyk or Kopua would be the light at the end of the tunnel the struggling franchise has been searching for.