For the first time since that memorable afternoon in Melbourne last July, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic hit the court tonight in anticipation of a new beginning.
The defending trans-Tasman league champions meet the Northern Mystics in their first pre-season outing of the year, with coach Noeline Taurua eager to see her new squad members in action.
After tonight's six 15-minute periods at the Otara Leisure Centre, the Magic take on the Central Pulse and the Australian Institute of Sport in their final two pre-season matches in New Plymouth at the weekend, ahead of their first game of the regular season on March 24.
Taurua is set to give her 14-strong squad equal amounts of game-time across those three fixtures in order for her to have a look at some of the newer players and how they combine with their team-mates.
The Magic have five players who weren't involved in their squad last season. Experienced defender Jodi Tod-Elliott is returning after having her second child last year, while the new faces are former Canterbury Tactix shooter Ellen Halpenny, and the uncapped trio of shooter Kendra Falefitu, defender Jamie-Lee Price and midcourter Nadia Loveday.
"Now is the time to have a look and see what we've actually got," Taurua said.
"I know with some of them how they work together already, so it's a good opportunity to see the new blood out there and see what they can do as individuals, but also start to look at the combinations that are real that we can start to work and build on from this weekend onwards."
Taurua has no injury concerns among her squad and said everyone was in good form physically, with their trainings having been intense.
"The training's been really good actually, I'm quite excited by the level that we've been able to set ourselves.
"And just the mindset for us to keep pushing to try and extend that level. At the moment we're pushing quite hard in regards to seeing how far that we can actually go. You've sort of got to balance that out, but I'm really quite happy how the girls have responded."
In the past couple of weeks the Magic have played against men and looked at different ways they can put pressure on themselves during training so they can ensure they simulate match intensity.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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