Tactix defender Temalisi Fakahokotau gunning for Silver Ferns trial
Temalisi Fakahokotau might just be the most improved elite netballer in the country.
The 22-year-old goal keep has been a rare bright light in another dismal season for the Mainland Tactix, and coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek is calling for her inclusion in the Silver Ferns trials.
A 28-player list will be announced on June 30 and Delaney-Hoshek said Fakahokotau, who has rediscovered her best netball after shifting from the Northern Mystics, deserved to be selected.
"I really hope she'd be there. She's been phenomenal really," Delaney-Hoshek said.
"She's done her fitness. She's a lot fitter than what she was when she came here. She's been a great team person. She's performed on court every game."
Delaney-Hoshek revealed Fakahokotau had lost 9kg since joining the Tactix and said the progress she had made with her strength and conditioning had been reflected in her play.
Fakahokotau experienced a meteoric rise in 2014, featuring in two tests for the Silver Ferns in her first year of professional netball. She battled for form and consistency over the next two years at the Mystics, moving to the Tactix this season for increased court-time and a fresh start.
It was a huge switch for the North Shore local, who left home for the first time and farewelled her parents and eight siblings.
Her shift south has paid off, starting in every game she's been available and being the best performed Tactix player.
She is ranked third in the national netball premiership for deflections (83) and fifth for intercepts (30) and was optimistic her play had caught the eye of Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby.
Given the international retirements of Casey Kopua, Anna Harrison and Leana de Bruin, Fakahokotau should be a certainty for trials.
"I'm definitely proud of where I am at the moment," Fakahokotau said.
"Obviously, there's still space for improvement for myself. The big move down here was scary for me, first time out of home, but everything has worked out good for me, so it's brilliant."
Despite the Tactix lack of success, Fakahokotau had enjoyed her time in Christchurch and relished the chance for major minutes. With Jess Moulds injured for much of the campaign, she has formed a strong defensive combination with Zoe Walker.
"It's great getting out there and getting that starting position. Back up in Auckland, I was known as an impact player. Down here, I have that starting position."
Fakahokotau will surely be on Delaney-Hoshek's wish list for next season as she begins the difficult task of trying to assemble a competitive Tactix squad for 2018.
As for Fakahokotau, she was keeping her options open for the off-season.
"I've definitely enjoyed it, but at the moment I'm keeping an open mind and seeing what there is out there. At the moment, it's being open to pretty much anybody."
The Tactix, who have won just one of 14 matches and are assured of last place, finish their campaign against the Mystics in Auckland on Sunday.
Fakahokotau will be playing her 50th top-level game in either the former ANZ Championship or Premiership and was excited about the chance to match up against former team-mate Maria Tutaia.
"Anything you try and do she isn't fazed with it. It's just trying to get into her head, which is highly unlikely. Maria is an amazing shooter."
Delaney-Hoshek has released shooter Ellie Bird to play for Mainland's second tier side in the Beko League final against Central, which will be played after the Tactix game.
She said there hadn't been any talk of retirement from any of the Tactix senior players leading into their final outing.
AT A GLANCE:
Mystics v Tactix
Sunday 2pm; Trusts Arena, Auckland.