Kate Beveridge and Kimiora Poi fresh faces at Mainland Tactix
The Mainland Tactix misfiring midcourt have paid the price for too many turnovers and defensive lapses, not being retained for next season.
As revealed by The Press last week, starting wing defence Hayley Saunders and centre Nicola Mackle both missed out on contracts. Goal attack and foundation Tactix player Anna Thompson is the most high profile casualty.
Canterbury-raised Thompson, 31, played a franchise-record 131 games for the Tactix between 2008-17, but coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek has made the tough calls and gone in another direction.
The Tactix finalised their 10-player squad for 2018 on Thursday, snapping up exciting New Zealand under-21 midcourter Kimiora Poi and re-signing seven players, headlined by recalled Silver Fern Temalisi Fakahokotau.
Experienced Australian shooter Kate Beveridge 32, who can also cover wing attack, will fill the side's import spot. Beveridge played 16 tests for Australia from 2008-11.
Thompson's departure is a talking point, given her loyal service to the Tactix through their bleak history on court.
Having finished last and won just two games in the inaugural national netball premiership, Delaney-Hoshek, who took over from Sue Hawkins after five games, had to make some changes.
Saunders, who is understood to have signed with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, and Mackle, were both deemed surplus to requirements.
Zoe Walker, usually a circle defender, will move into wing defence next season, where she has trialled for the Silver Ferns, leaving star recruit Jane Watson, Fakahokotau and Jess Moulds to battle it out for two starting defensive berths.
"We suffered turnover-wise in that midcourt overall," Delaney-Hoshek said.
"I really wanted to get Zoe into wing defence, as well. With the strong defenders we had come in, there wasn't space for everybody."
It is unclear whether Thompson will retire from the elite ranks or end up at another side. Delaney-Hoshek said difficult decisions needed to be made in professional sport and they wished Thompson well.
"We had to look at the future going forward in that space. It's just about a fresh start really. I'm pretty excited with what we've got going forward."
Gisborne-product Poi impressed for the New Zealand under-21 World Cup-winning side last month. She was a training partner for the Central Pulse this season and can play wing attack and centre.
Delaney-Hoshek likened her to a young Temepara Bailey and was delighted she was heading to Christchurch.
"It was just luck and contacting her at the right time. I know a lot of franchises would have liked to have picked her up. She's got the flair and she can feed the ball really nicely."
Beveridge will provide veteran leadership having previously played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens and most recently West Coast Fever.
Delaney-Hoshek said they chased Beveridge once Jhaniele Fowler-Reid signed with the Fever and liked the fact she brought experience, could play both shooting positions, and offered height (1.93m).
"Statistically, she's an 85 plus per cent shooter. She's a pretty good pick-up for us."
The Tactix are stacked defensively with Silver Ferns Watson and Fakahokotau having the potential to form a lethal combination. Fringe Silver Fern Moulds is healthy again after missing most of last season recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Watson has rejoined the Tactix, who she played for from 2012-14, before heading to the Southern Steel, where she excelled being named ANZ Premiership MVP this season.
Defender Kate Lloyd, who was in the New Zealand under-21 squad, will likely be on the look out for a new team with several leading defenders in front of her at the Tactix.
"The defence is the best looking Tactix defence we've seen yet," Delaney-Hoshek said.
"It is pretty exciting we actually have all of those defenders that are at that level. That should help take us to the next level."
AT A GLANCE:
Tactix 2018 squad: Shooters: Ellie Bird, Brooke Leaver, Kate Beveridge (Australia), Midcourt: Erikana Pedersen, Kimiora Poi, Charlotte Elley, Zoe Walker, Defenders: Temalisi Fakahokotau, Jane Watson, Jess Moulds.