'Summer Shootout' no frolic for Central Pulse
Get a game while you can girls.
Come the end of the trans-Tasman Netball League's three-day "Summer Shootout" which starts in Melbourne tomorrow, significant tinkering with the Central Pulse's lineup will stop.
Coach Robyn Broughton's track record shows she builds starting sevens of quality and sticks with them. She's got a fine group of players now and will hope to drive them all the way into the league playoffs.
First, they have clashes with each of Australia's five franchises, plus the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel, in Melbourne.
"I'll set targets, but I like to win too. There's nothing like building confidence through winning," Broughton said prior to today's departure.
"We've got to make the most of it. We've got to really dig in and I've got to make sure that all the combinations I've got in my head make it out on court."
Broughton rang plenty of changes during the Pulse's two previous pre-season wins over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. They brought home that Silver Ferns wing defence Joline Henry's best position for the Pulse could be centre and that wing attack is open.
Broughton's been well-served in that position by Adine Wilson, Jenny-May Coffin and Liana Leota, over the years. Leota's in this Pulse squad, but won't be sighted for a while yet, as she waits in England to give birth to her third child.
She's a major loss in the meantime, meaning Melbourne provides an opportunity for Millie Lees, Elias Shadrock, Katarina Cooper and Gemma Hazeldine to audition for the role until she's fit to play.
Shadrock missed the Magic games with an ankle injury, but has become one of the first names out of Broughton's mouth when it comes to talking positives.
English import Ama Agbeze should get court time in Melbourne too. She played just one of the 12 quarters against the Magic and has been in Perth lately, where she was previously a member of the West Coast Fever, sitting law exams.
Agbeze will have to bide her time behind the established defensive pairing of Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Katrina Grant. Selby-Rickit said she'd sit out the odd quarter this year, if Broughton thought it best, but wasn't in an hurry to hand her bib to Agbeze.
Between two Silver Ferns tours, and the FastNet Ferns' World Netball Series win, it's been a non-existent offseason for Selby-Rickit. But she seems to have returned more confident and focused.
Plenty of folk, not least the Pulse themselves, expect the world from them this season. If they're to deliver, though, Selby Rickit says the team mustn't let that become a burden.
"If training's fun everyone gets into it and goes harder and if you're having a good time you're more likely to win," Selby-Rickit said.
"Fun is a huge part of the season and Rob [Broughton] brings fun a lot of the time. Other times she's all business, but she definitely wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves while we're playing.
"We do have good players, but it's about working together and enjoying it."
The Dominion Post