Elias Shadrock is better than ever after time out. Aaron Goile reports.
New Magic sensation Elias Shadrock is crediting last year's time away from the trans-Tasman netball league for her revelation in form this season.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side's wing defence, who turned 22 this month, has suddenly become an integral part of the Magic's amazing run to the playoffs.
She has been a solid, if unspectacular performer in the midcourt, which the Magic were desperately seeking alongside captain Laura Langman at centre.
And last Monday Shadrock launched herself to prominence when she proved decisive by picking up a couple of balls late in the comeback minor semifinal victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Hamilton.
She said knowing she could pull plays like that off had given her confidence a big boost and she now wanted to play with extra consistency throughout an entire match.
"It definitely was a step up for me last week," Shadrock said.
"I wasn't too happy with the first half of my game, I felt I was just a bit too loose on defence and definitely stepped it up in those last quarters."
Shadrock had played only half of one quarter of the Magic's first three games of this ANZ Championship season before her chance came in the fourth quarter of round four against the Melbourne Vixens when Jess Tuki went off injured.
Although that stint didn't go so well, she was retained.
In the following game against the Canterbury Tactix she was interchanged at one point, but the Magic clearly lost their way.
Since then, the only time she has spent on the bench was a few minutes at the end of one match which was safely in the bag, proving just how valuable to the Magic she has become.
After Shadrock was a bit-part piece of the Magic's squad in 2009 and 2010, she was let go last year, and she said that time out had helped her work hard to get back.
"I wanted to be here and I knew I could be here, it was just going out there and showing that I can be here," she said, adding that she knew things definitely had to change.
"I guess you know what to expect, being there before, so I knew that you had to be fitter and stronger and I definitely knew I had to work on my game out there on court. And it was good getting some game time with Waikato and University just to develop that game."
Shadrock said the message she had been given this season was the same as for all players, and that was to "own your position".
Her much bigger involvement in the side now comes with more expectation, but mainly from herself.
"The team goals are there but for me it's just personal, so I want to step it up for myself, go out there and put in a good performance that I'm going to come off and be happy with," she said.
And the playoffs, well, she's just lapping up that experience and tries to think of the big games as "another game".
"When you start thinking about all that other stuff, you put the pressure on yourself as well," she said.
"We just wanted to go out there and show what we can do and step it up from the week before. That's been our philosophy, always being better than last week."
That will again be the case for Monday's preliminary final against the Northern Mystics in Auckland, where Shadrock gets to play up against her idol Temepara George again.
When George made her Silver Ferns debut, Shadrock had not long started primary school, then when George made her international comeback, Shadrock was heading off to intermediate.
"She's just an amazing player and definitely looked up to her when I was growing up, and still do," Shadrock said.
"I'm just going to focus on doing my job and just doing that well, whether that's playing up with Temepara or whoever I'm playing against. Just try and not focus too much on them; you analyse them a bit but you just focus on your own game and what you have to do well."
On the subject of Silver Ferns,Joline Henry's pregnancy has opened up a midcourt spot there this year, and Shadrock is going the right way about impressing all the right people.
"Like all netballers, you always dream to be a Silver Fern, and if that happens it happens," Shadrock said.
" But [I'm] just focusing on my job here because you can get a bit distracted I reckon."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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