Inspirational Magic defender Casey Williams has pinpointed why her side is finally ready to claim a trans-Tasman netball title.
The 27-year-old Silver Ferns captain has been part of each of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side's previous four failed finals campaigns, but says the team's patience on attack and the understanding they have developed between one another is the crucial thing which could guide them to glory this year.
Going into the ANZ Championship preliminary final against the Northern Mystics in Auckland on Monday, Williams said "keeping the possession of the ball and cherishing it" had been better than in the past.
"And I think when an attacker throws the ball away they do feel guilty because they look at us down the other end and we're like `Arrgghh no'," she said.
"Our attackers work so hard, they don't throw the ball away on purpose and we've got to try and work hard down the other end."
Williams also said the Magic are now able to quickly adapt their game, should they feel they're getting dominated, which was evidenced last Monday in the minor semifinal against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
"In the changing room we knew that we weren't playing our best and we knew if we wanted to do something we had to make it happen ourselves," Williams said of the Magic's mindset at halftime. "Because we set such high standards at trainings we don't expect anything less out on court. And when we know we're not doing well, I think we can actually acknowledge it, and change it..."
Williams felt that change had been brought on by everybody learning about themselves and having high expectations of themselves and each other.
In terms of her own game, Williams realises she's been steadily improving, but has been focusing on a mantra of "I don't care who gets the ball as long as someone in our team gets it".
Going into the preliminary final, there are parallels to last year, with the same two sides going into battle, but Williams doesn't look at it as a chance to right the wrongs from last time.
"I just worry about our team and what we're doing, but obviously you do know who's in the other team and what they do," she said. "And we do try and set up stuff in training what they do do, so that when it happens in the game we're not so surprised."
That includes the Harrison Hoist, which Williams joked she doesn't have to worry about at her end though said that her shooters are ready for it.
"Yeah I reckon they will [use it]," she said of the ploy. "They might have a few things up their sleeve, I think they said the other day."
While the Mystics could be vulnerable after coming off a loss in their major semifinal, Williams realises there's two ways that can go.
"When you lose you either come out stronger or you can go down further. And I've been in both of those scenarios before. So I think it's just on the day making sure all 12 of us turn up with our A game no matter what, it doesn't matter who we're playing. We respect the other team, but we're there to do a job and it's do or die."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can the Magic win the final this year?