New Silver Fern Monica Falkner one of four returnees for the Waikato-BOP Magic
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic announced their first signings for 2018 on Friday, one of whom has had a busier week than the others.
Casey Kopua, Kelly Jury, Sam Sinclair and Monica Falkner have all been confirmed to return, which means Grace Rasmussen is the only Silver Fern they have lost.
While Kopua's days in the black dress have been and gone, Jury's and Sinclair's have only just begun, and they will shortly be joined by Falkner, who received her first callup at the start of the week.
"Janine [Southby, the Silver Ferns coach] actually rang me on Sunday, when she was doing all the rounds calling everyone, and I was just at home, but it was pretty exciting," said Falkner about how she heard of her selection, which came at the end of her first season of top-level netball.
Starting every game for the Magic as they finished fourth in the six-team ANZ Premiership, Falkner was impressive, shooting 82 per cent and showing good range. She then went on to play a key role for the national under-21 team as they won the World Youth Cup in Botswana last month, alongside fellow Magic returnee Jury.
Falkner juggles her netball commitments with study towards a Bachelor of Science at the University of Waikato, and she said her international callup had forced her to rethink her plans for the rest of the year.
"I got back from Ferns trials, and waited for that call on Sunday, and from then it's just been full on, trying to organise uni and everything for the second half of the year around it.
"It wasn't something that I was expecting so I hadn't taken it into account, but everything seems to be under control, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Falkner is one of two new caps in the 16-strong Ferns squad, alongside Central Pulse midcourter Whitney Souness, and will get her chance to impress in the Taini Jamison Trophy series against England, which features a test in Hamilton, where she is currently based.
Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes are the incumbents in the shooting circle for the Ferns, and Falkner also has Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Maia Wilson for company in the squad, while Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another on the fringes, having missed the 2017 ANZ Premiership while having a baby.
Falkner said being in the Ferns environment with the likes of Tutaia and Mes over the next few months would help her grow her game.
"They're people that I've grown up watching and I'm not expecting anything, but I'm going to try to learn a lot off them and get to know them and take as much off them as I can."
Falkner said she was looking forward to returning to the Magic for another season, and that it was an easy decision to make.
"As a team I felt we were quite rocky, up and down, but we got better as the season progressed and that's what I'm looking forward to for next season, is building more on that, and learning from what happened this season."
Her first taste of top-level netball was an eye opener, but she was pleased with how she went, and had a couple of areas she has identified as work-ons, one of which is being better organised.
"Especially with uni, because while I'm committed to netball, I need a second option. I've learned that I can do that as well as playing netball if I have good planning and time management.
"Also being a little bit more confident, and saying how I feel, to get more out of myself and others around me."
With Friday's four signings, the Magic became the last ANZ Premiership team to start revealing their squad for 2018.
The Northern Mystics, Southern Steel and Mainland Tactix have all locked in their lists of 10, while the Central Pulse only have one player left to the name.
The Magic have six spots left to fill, the same as the Northern Stars, and all eyes will be on whether they will bring back Ariana Cable-Dixon and Lenize Potgieter, who are their only starters from 2017 whose plans are yet to be confirmed.
Teams have until August 23 to complete their rosters, with the new season not set to start until May, following the Commonwealth Games, which will be held on the Gold Coast in April.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic 2018
Returning from 2017: Casey Kopua, Kelly Jury, Monica Falkner, Sam Sinclair
Departing: Grace Rasmussen (Northern Stars)
Unknown: Lenize Potgieter, Ariana Cable-Dixon, Grace Kukutai, Amorangi Malesala, Alex MacLeod-Smith, Sydney Fraser