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2010 saw another remarkable year for the NSW Swifts. Winners in 2008, then second last in 2009, they went through the entire 2010 regular season undefeated and looked like claiming the title once again. But incredibly, they failed to even make the grand final. Firstly, they were stunned by a fiercely determined Adelaide Thunderbirds team in the major semi-final, and then also beaten by Magic in the preliminary final. The eventual grand final success of the Thunderbirds team which featured two imports led to a change in the import rule for the 2011 season. It was a second grand final defeat for a star-studded Magic team in three years, with New Zealand fans beginning to wonder if the title would ever head their way.
2010 ANZ CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS
NOURSE, Lauren (capt)
Coach: Roselee Jencke
New South Wales Swifts
COX, Catherine (capt)
Coach: Julie Fitzgerald
CHATFIELD, Bianca (co-capt)
MCMAHON, Sharelle (co-capt)
* WILSON, Micaela (injury replacement player)
Coach: Julie Hoornweg
VON BERTOUCH, Natalie (capt)
Coach: Jane Woodlands-Thompson
West Coast Fever
CURRAN, Johannah (capt)
Coach: Jane Searle
GEORGE, Temepara (capt)
Coach: Te Aroha Keenan
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
LANGMAN, Laura (capt)
SCHOLZ, Peta *
VAN DYK, Irene
* CLARKE, Jade (injury replacement player)
Coach: Noeline Taurua
ALTSCHWAGER, Jane (capt)
AMARU-TIBBLE, Te Amo
Coach: Yvette McCausland-Durie
BOWDEN, Maree (capt)
* HUTTON, Megan (In jury replacement player)
* MITCHELL, Angela (Injury replacement player)
Coach: Helen Mahon-Stroud
DE BRUIN, Leana
DEHN, Megan (capt)
SELBY-RICKIT, Te Huinga Reo
Coach: Robyn Broughton
Mystics big movers in transtasman league
Northern Mystics confirmed their status as the most energetic of the New Zealand netball franchises after today’s release of teams for the 2010 transtasman league. Only four players remain from the 12 who last year finished eighth out of the 10 teams in the ANZ Championship. Silver Ferns midcourt pivot Temepara George remains, as does goal shoot Cathrine Latu, who finished last year’s league with an impressive 86 per cent success rate from 13 games. Only long-serving New Zealand goal shoot Irene van Dyk bettered that over the full season with 93 per cent.
Defensive utility Finau Pulu is still on the Mystics’ roster, as is attacking midcourter and national under-21 representative Grace Rasmussen. Heading those making the trek to Auckland are Silver Ferns Maria Tutaia and Joline Henry, both formerly of Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. Joining them are New Zealand teammate Larrissa Willcox, who played for Canterbury Tactix this season, and Jamaican defender Althea Byfield, moving from Central Pulse. Former Silver Fern turned television commentator Jenny May-Coffin has also returned to the franchise. Among missing from last year’s roster are Stephanie Bond, Vili Davu, Rawinia Everitt, Keshia Grant, Rachel Rasmussen, Debbie White and shooter Jade Topia, who has signed for Southern Steel.
Bottom-of-the-table Central Pulse have also been busy, making the most of a rescue package aimed at supporting any team finishing ninth or 10th for consecutive seasons. Despite their first transtasman league win in the penultimate round of this year’s league – a 53-52 win over NSW Swifts – the Pulse were the only team able to apply for concessions in the 2010 season. Among the measures were the right to contract two non-eligible players, and to apply for a $25,000 grant from the Transtasman Netball League.
The Pulse have lost Byfield, but have made some strong acquisitions, including Silver Ferns defender Katrina Grant from the Steel. Adelaide Thunderbirds shooter Jane Altschwager boosts the Pulse’s shooting line-up while English defender Ama Agbeze has joined the Wellington-based team from Melbourne Vixens.
Canterbury Tactix look to have fared the worst in the transfer window, losing shooter Jodi Brown to Magic and Sonia Mkoloma to NSW Swifts, as well as Willcox. On the plus side, they have picked up Australian defender Peta Stephens from Queensland Firebirds, and retained Silver Ferns Maree Bowden and Anna Thompson.
The Magic, runners-up in 2008, have maintained a solid squad despite the loss of Henry, Tutaia and Leana De Bruin (Steel), with the inclusion of Australian defender Peta Scholz further strengthening their line-up.
The Steel will be without shooter Donna Wilkins, but have a talented young replacement in Topia as well as a potentially destructive defensive pairing in Sheryl Scanlan and De Bruin.
Firebirds thrilled with Medhurst boost
Goalkeeper Laura Geitz says the Queensland Firebirds could explode into finals contention with the recent acquisition of star forward Natalie Medhurst. Medhurst will partner Jamaican goal sneak Romelda Aiken up front after joining the Firebirds from the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Geitz says Queensland, which begins preseason training this month, is hoping to make the netball finals for the first time with Medhurst in the side. “She’s definitely been a marquee player for Adelaide in the last couple of years and obviously an Australian representative herself so she’ll combine really quite nicely with Romelda there in the goal circle.”
The Firebirds have five new players in total in their side for the 2010 season, including three debutants. Geitz says the team is targeting an all-important top four finish. “When it comes to missing out on a top four position by percentage it certainly leaves a pretty bad taste in your mouth,” she said. “We’re aiming for nothing less than a top four finish.”