Waikato-BOP Magic have their culture right

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014
Grace Rasmussen
MARTIN HUNTER/ Getty
TEAM PLAYER: Grace Rasmussen.

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The culture at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic is far better than what Grace Rasmussen experienced in her time at the Northern Mystics.

Having played with the Auckland-based side since the competition’s inception in 2008, Rasmussen this year joined a new-look Magic team, and despite only being there five minutes, has noticed a different environment.

‘‘I think that it’s more relaxed and it’s more family-orientated,’’ she said.

‘‘And I think they put an emphasis on having each other’s backs and just that real camaraderie and that sisterhood. And I feel that, coming in from a different team, I feel that family, and that support from the community, which is great. They’ve been absolutely welcoming, which is a bonus for myself.

‘‘I’m absolutely loving it.’’

The 25-year-old slotted in seamlessly at wing attack in the Magic’s opening round demolition of the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch. Despite the newness in combinations in the middle and attacking thirds it looked slick and encouraging.

‘‘Actually it wasn’t as hard as people sort of made it out to be,’’ Rasmussen said of clicking as a unit.

‘‘The players that we do have down the attacking end are definitely players that help one another, create space. I quite like working with Courtney Tairi, she’s a player that balances the court well and she reads the game tremendously well.

‘‘I think what’s special down our attacking end is we’re all movers, which is quite nice, and each and every one reads the space well, which makes my job even easier.’’

Rasmussen said there were celebrations in the changing room after that first-up win, and she knew they had the potential to put out a performance like that, despite being a bit unsure heading into it after lacklustre pre-season showings.

She also credited the work coach Julie Fitzgerald had done for the attackers, bringing different perspectives to the table.

‘‘She was one of the main reasons why I’ve moved down to the Magic. Her feedback and her reading of the game and her knowledge of the game and her background has just helped us tremendously down the attacking end.’’

While the team do a bit of video work on their opposition. Fitzgerald has mainly kept them focusing on themselves and ensuring they do the basics right, like treasuring turnover ball and making strong leads and clear movements with it.

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The Magic face the Mystics in the second round, in Auckland on Monday night, pitting Rasmussen – who still lives in Auckland and commutes twice a week to Cambridge for training – against her former side.

‘‘It is very exciting,’’ she said, adding she wasn’t sure how the banter would play out during the game.

‘‘But at the end of the day it’s sort of no friends on court and then have a laugh afterwards.

‘‘Come game-time it’s all about us and putting a full 60-minute effort out there.’’

It’s a big year for Rasmussen to also show she can still be a contender for the international level too, and add to her eight test caps.

‘‘Obviously the Silver Ferns dress would be amazing to wear at the Comm Games. But at this stage, short-term, Magic’s my focus, and that’s what I’m putting all my emphasis on. Whatever may come comes, and is an added bonus.’’

- Waikato Times

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