Casey Kopua to lead Wai-BOP Magic in new era
New Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald has predictably named Casey Kopua as captain for the 2014 trans-Tasman league season.
Despite not having led the franchise before, the Silver Ferns skipper was the obvious candidate to take the reigns of the new-looking Magic outfit.
Laura Langman held the post for the past four years, before defecting to the Northern Mystics in the off-season, while fellow veteran Irene van Dyk has moved to Central Pulse.
That left Fitzgerald, who is taking over from Noeline Taurua, with a straightforward choice of leader.
"I'm delighted to have Casey as captain," Fitzgerald said. "I love her style of captaincy and I think she will lead this team very well." Kopua, 28, is a foundation member of the Magic, debuting in 2003, before making her first international appearance in 2005, then taking over as national captain in 2009.
Fellow star defender Leana de Bruin, 36, has been named vice-captain.
"They're the two senior players in the team who will give a lot of guidance to the younger ones," Fitzgerald said.
"On court there will be other leaders but Casey and Leana will be the obvious ones who are driving us at training and leading us on court."
The star pairing left this week for the Ferns' tour of the United Kingdom, with Kopua travelling as a training partner as she recovers from ankle surgery.
Fellow Magic players Courtney Tairi and Malia Paseka are also going as training partners, while Jo Harten is with the England camp.
The Magic got together as a team for the first time during the week, but were also without New Zealand Accelerant Squad members Grace Rasmussen and Ellen Halpenny, who were training with the Ferns.
Fitzgerald said the disrupted preparation wasn't ideal but was something they'd known about all along.
"It's a fact of life in modern day sport and international netball now, so we'll cope as best we can."
The remaining players will combine with some extras from the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Zone to form a composite team for a training game against the New Zealand Accelerant squad in Auckland today, before the internationals return for the bulk of the Magic's pre-season.
The team's first match of the competition is on March 1 against the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch.