De Bruin not letting age slow her down

LEANA DE BRUIN: "I'm still proud, obviously, to be born South African but I am a Kiwi now."
LEANA DE BRUIN: "I'm still proud, obviously, to be born South African but I am a Kiwi now."

Leana de Bruin cringes and groans when it's brought up in this interview, but her age is something that will be put to good use in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's trans-Tasman netball playoffs campaign.

The instrumental defender turns 35 on game day of the minor semifinal against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Hamilton on Monday.

However, age is not slowing her down, and the experience she has rattled up will be invaluable for a side looking to turn around a poor ANZ Championship finals record.

"You could probably say it's an advantage in the sense that mentally you don't get fussed about little things like younger players might do," de Bruin said.

"Everybody in this competition has to work very hard physically and mentally. You've got a little bit of an edge, a little bit of an older head, but the old body needs to work with the head. Younger players are fitter and faster, and it's hard to keep up with them sometimes, but I think physically we're not too far behind them."

There are just two players in the Magic squad older than 27, with de Bruin in fine company at the top of the order with fellow ex-South African Irene van Dyk, who turned 40 last month. "As long as she is here I'm still not the oldest, so I'm happy," de Bruin said.

De Bruin has previous playoffs experience with the Magic in 2009 and with the Southern Steel in 2010, although has not yet won a title. Her message to her side's less experienced members is to see the finals matches as "just another game that we have to win".

De Bruin has also sent a warning to the Thunderbirds that despite a great defensive effort in the Magic's last outing, she and Casey Williams felt their communication wasn't as great as it had been previously, and they had worked hard to sort it out this week.

Taranaki Daily News