Robyn Broughton is back and bringing the bulk of this year's Central Pulse team with her.
In captain Katrina Grant, Joline Henry, Donna Wilkins, Liana Leota, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Millie Lees and Paula Griffin, Broughton believes she has the basis of a squad to make a real run at next year's trans-Tasman Netball League title.
None of this year's players have yet re-signed, but Broughton reeled off the names of those who've confirmed they'll be joining her in 2014.
That'll delight some fans, but bemuse others wanting to know how hard the Pulse are chasing people like Irene van Dyk.
Broughton certainly hasn't spoken to the Wellington-based goal shoot, who's already declared her desire to return to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. Van Dyk would be a wonderful addition to the Pulse, but Broughton won't go chasing her or any other Magic players who might be unsettled by losing the "security blanket" of longtime coach Noeline Taurua.
"Those sorts of players are going to have to decide [who they're playing for] quite quickly. That's a huge change that's gone on there this year, there's quite a bit of turmoil," Broughton said of the Magic.
Broughton's more interested on building on progress she's made with the established Pulse group. The team tended to teeter on their training wheels during Broughton's first two seasons in charge but appear ready to hold their nerve more consistently.
Such is Broughton's confidence, she's even replaced this year's mantra of "a team of champions doesn't make a champion team" to "the team of champions should be making a champion team."
The coach credits Henry, Wilkins and Leota with helping her drive that change and also convincing her to come back for a final season, having initially decided to retire.
"I wouldn't have come back without them because I've done the hard work for two years to get us into a situation where we're now thinking 'we want it and we want to be better', whereas I was having to put that idea into their heads in the beginning," she said.
"Now we've just got to concentrate on having a good gameplan and putting that together and executing things properly. In the original year I came I felt there wasn't enough of a hard-nosed attitude about where you want to be and what you're doing here.
"I feel it's different now, I feel the confidence is there and the enjoyment."
There will be pressure too. Next year will definitely be the last hurrah for Broughton and Wilkins and probably Leota as well.
The trio were part of Southern Steel teams which twice made the semifinals of this competition and are determined to surpass that. But if they don't do that in 2014, they never will.
"That's something we'll look back on and say 'did we withstand the pressure or didn't we?' If we have, well, we'll have succeeded," said Broughton.
- The Dominion Post
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