While the majority of her Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic team-mates prepare to put out a commanding performance in the trans-Tasman netball league grand final, Jess Tuki can only ponder what time, if any she will get on court.
After starting the ANZ Championship season as the Magic's first choice wing defence, the 24-year-old has had to play second fiddle ever since she injured her back in round four against the Melbourne Vixens at Hisense Arena - the same opponents and venue the Magic will face in tomorrow afternoon's decider.
When Tuki was forced out, Elias Shadrock stepped up, and her revelatory form has meant former Silver Fern Tuki hasn't been needed on the court since, apart from a short stint at centre against the Canterbury Tactix when replacing an injured Laura Langman.
Tuki, who won three caps for her country in 2006, has played in every position for the Magic, but her latest role of bench-warmer will again be the one she carries out in the grand final.
While confident in the Magic's core starting seven to get the job done, Tuki also has plenty of belief in herself to step up if required, covering wing attack and wing defence, but said the bench role brings a tough balancing act.
"It's really hard to try and keep all those emotions at bay because you're sitting there and trying to watch and you're trying to strategically plan what you want to do, while not get too involved in the hype of the crowd and the hype of the emotion that comes with cheering and rallying the team," Tuki said.
"In this sort of situation in finals netball anything can happen in a split second, you may be required to quickly jump up, with one minute max warning."
"It's a bloody hard task sometimes, to be expected to just come straight on and fit in - especially with us when we've had such a solid starting seven for the last eight to 10 weeks - and be that change and be that difference."
Tuki said the Magic had clear definitions of what's expected from the players and how to execute the game plan, as they aim to win their first ANZ Championship title in what is their third grand final in the competition's fifth year.
After a season with the Southern Steel in 2008, Tuki has been with the Magic ever since, with her previous grand final experience coming in the 2010 loss to the Adelaide Thunderbirds, when she played a full part.
Memories from that game aren't flash, so Tuki is hoping for sweeter times.
She said her side had had a big discussion about embracing their chance to play in the title decider.
"As much as you try and tell yourself 'It's just another game, it's just another game' you don't want to take away from the moment that it actually is a grand final," Tuki said.
"And for some players this is their first grand final, it's exciting at the same time as it's a job, there's still a job to do. It's a fine line between how you weigh them up but I think we're going into it as just taking the moment as it comes and still wanting to absorb all the feelings that come with that grand final as well as being able to focus on the task."
- © Fairfax NZ News