NETBALL SCOOP: NZ Netball Round Up – March 2023

NETBALL SCOOP: NZ Netball Round Up – March 2023

Welcome to Netball Scoop: New Zealand edition. Each month we will bring you the latest in netball from Aotearoa, covering everything from how the season is going, World Cup prospects and other interesting news. 


It’s hard to believe that the ANZ Premiership is already one third of the way through! Although there is always plenty of room to improve, most of the teams have found their groove relatively quickly and week after week we are producing some top quality netball across the country. 


The season so far 

Kicking off at the start of March, the season began in an interesting way: one blowout, one nail-biter and one somewhere in between. Round 1 showed why the Mystics are competition favourites, with a relentless opening match against the Steel (64-38). The next day, the Pulse and the Magic went toe-to-toe with the Pulse managing to secure the one point win (53-52). The last match of the round saw the Tactix defeat the Stars by six, leaving Cantaburians hopeful for the 2023 season (55-49).  

Round 2 saw the Stars quieten the sceptics with a convincing 66-47 win over the Magic, who were playing at home. The Pulse followed suit, with their 47-37 over the Steel. In what many are predicting to be an eventual final, the Mystics won against the Tactix (54-45) with both teams showing room for improvement – and a certain coach dropping a sneaky F bomb on the coach cam! It was a double-header weekend for the Stars and the Steel, with the Stars bringing the win home (74-40)). Across the weekend, the Stars scored a mindblowing 140 goals, with the final game seeing ‘goals scored’ records broken by both the Stars and Maia Wilson individually.

Round 3 provided us with an absolute blinder of a game which no one saw coming. The Magic took down competition favourites, the Mystics, by a nail biting one goal in extra time (57-56). The side had been down ten goals earlier and showed absolute grit and determination to claw it back. The Stars continued their form with a convincing win against the Pulse (59-51): Elle Temu may have been unavailable due to illness, but Katrina Rore (yes, you read right!) marked her return to netball by playing against her former team. The last match of the weekend brought few surprises, with the Steel losing to the Tactix at home (55-38), although the home side will draw positives from Saviour Tui’s return, even if she is on managed minutes. 

Aliyah Dunn scored the winning goal against her former team. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Aliyah Dunn scored the winning goal against her former team. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Round 4 produced a number of close games, which is exactly what we want to see as teams settle into the season. Despite a gutsy performance, the Steel are yet to find their first win after their loss to the Magic (49-54), but the narrow score lines between the Tactix v Pulse (49-50) – which saw Aliyah Dunn score the winning goal against her former team, and Mystics v Stars (62-59), showed us there is not much dividing the top four teams at this stage. The Tactix continued their momentum with a 58-41 win over the Pulse to end this first stage of the competition.


Ladder (after Rounds 1 – 4) 

Rank Team Played Wins –  Draws – Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Differential Bonus Points Overall Points
1 Mainland Tactix 5 4-0-1 263 231 32 0 12
2 Northern Stars 5 3-0-2 307 255 52 0 10
3 Northern Mystics 4 3-0-1 236 199 37 0 10
4 Central Pulse 4 2-0-2 210 198 12 0 7
5 WBOP Magic 5 2-0-3 251 282 -31 0 7
6 Southern Steel 5 0-0-5 202 304 -102 0 1

Kelera Nawai-Caucau (Stars) is in her first ANZP season in the purple dress. Image: Nicole Mudgway


Laura Malcolm features in the top 10 for 2023 feeds. Image: Nicole Mudgway


Naturally the first few rounds always contain the most debuts. Round 1 saw Sam Winders and shooter Eseta Autagavaia debut for the Steel. For the Tactix, we saw Aliyah Dunn, Laura Malcolm and Greer Sinclair debut in their starts. Fa’amu Ioane made her debut for the yellow and black. Moving north, Charlotte Elley debuted for the Magic, Katie Te Ao debuted for the Mystics and the Stars welcomed Kelera Nawai-Caucau, Lisa Putt and Samon Nathan.

In round 2, Meleitia Tatupu (a member of the Southern Blast) made a debut for the Steel and Joyce Mvula made her much anticipated debut for the Pulse. In round 3, Katrina Rore marked her much awaited return to netball playing for the Stars against her former team, the Pulse while Amy Christophers made her debut for the Magic.

While plenty of players have donned new colours this season, they aren’t the only ones to debut. Umpire, Marly Howard, made her ANZ Premiership debut in Round 2 also.


Players to watch

With the recent confirmation that there will be no trials for the World Cup (rather the team will be chosen off the back of the ANZ Premiership season), playing well throughout the season is essential for those wanting to make the world cup squad. A few players that have caught our attention in these first few rounds:

  • Amelia Walmsley – in her first game of the season, she not only started, she played the full 60 minutes and was awarded MVP of the match! 
  • Greer Sinclair – already cementing her spot as the starting WD for the Tactix. Plays a bit like Kayla Cullen (and dare we say it, looks a little like her too). Let’s see how much knowledge she can absorb from her defensive counterparts Jane Watson and Karin Burger this season. Even her coach, Marianne Delaney, has hinted that she is a potential bolter for the Ferns. 
  • Sam Winders in the WA bib – making herself a triple threat in time for the World Cup. Down south she is also growing a combination with Kate Heffernan which will be helpful for the Ferns. She hasn’t had much luck with Ferns selection for pinnacle events, so she’ll be working overtime (as if she doesn’t already!) to try and make this year her year. It’s just a pity she is lacking a star shooter to feed to, to help her look good.
  • Maddy Gordon – playing C for the Pulse showcases Gordon’s assets across the midcourt and her versatility as a player. With the Ferns midcourt anything but decided, having the ability to serve as a utility player can only work in her favour.
Amelia Walmsley is an exciting up and comer. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Amelia Walmsley is an exciting up and comer. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


Keep an eye on Maddy Gordon this season as she eyes off a spot on the Ferns World Cup team. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Keep an eye on Maddy Gordon this season as she eyes off a spot on the Ferns World Cup team. Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


Te Huinga Selby-Rickett has played an impressive 200 national league matches. Images: Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Te Paea Selby-Rickett celebrated on Monday against the Pulse her 50th appearance for the Tactix. Images: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


  • Te Huinga Selby-Rickett = 200!! In the Steel v Pulse game (round 2)
  • Elle Temu = 50 in the round 2 game (Stars v Steel)
  • Courtney Elliott = 50 games round 4
  • Charlotte Elley = 100 national netball league matches round 4
  • Te Paea Selby-Rickit = 50 Tactix matches, round 4 – hasn’t time flown?!



The Steel have been plagued by injury already this season. We are all well aware that George Fisher is out for the season (but will faithfully be watching from the sideline). Te Huinga Reo Selby Rickit missed the first game due to injury, and in round 3 Saviour Tui returned from her knee surgery in the off season. 

Elsewhere, Jamie Hume was slowly making her full return to the Stars at the beginning of the season after shoulder surgery in the offseason. More recently during the round 4 Mystics v Stars game, both Maia Wilson and Sulu Fitzpatrick took to the bench – hopefully just a precautionary measure following tweaks on the court. Time will tell. 

Jamie Hume is being load managed in the early part of the season. Image: Nicole Mudgway

Jamie Hume waa being load managed in the early part of the season. Image: Nicole Mudgway

The juicy stuff

Not starting with discussing the Steel would be like failing to mention the elephant in the room. We love the Southern Steel: their spirit and grit is almost unparalleled across the competition, but sadly for everyone (especially the southern fans) they’re just not having their greatest year. The hole that George Fisher has left down the shooting end has been almost insurmountable for them to overcome*; we are now five games into the season and they are yet to secure a win. At what stage do the greater powers (those being Netball New Zealand) step in and do something? 

Admittedly it might be hard to do anything about it this year (and hopefully with Saviour Tui’s return the Steel continue to improve) maybe it’s an opportunity to prevent something like this happening in the future. Options such as having a pool of reserve players, or the ability for players to be ‘loaned’ (as is common in some American sports and sometimes rugby) could be considered. Another option (and we like the sound of this one) is some kind of return to trans-Tasman netball. Yes, please! 

*The current Steel shooting end contains a lot of potential, they are growing and building their experience at this level. 

Dame Noels has indicated that there will not be trials for the Silver Ferns this year, rather the team will be chosen based on performances across the season. She has also hinted that naturally, the team’s ‘spine’ is starting to form (as to who they are is anyone’s guess!) but there is still time for players to earn a spot.

Taurua has said that she wants to see defenders winning more ball, a stat which may be useful for predicting who’s in the running for the squad’s defensive end. It looks from the start of this season that the defensive lineup for the World Cup is going to be extremely hard to choose. The question will be how to whittle it down to four when Karin Burger, Jane Watson, Phoenix Karaka, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kelly Jury all have been consistently selected and are all having quality seasons. And that doesn’t even account for players like Elle Temu, who are just entering the international environment, but offer something new and exciting. 

Named 2021’s Aspiring Silver Fern, young gun Paris Lokotui has finally made her return to the court, 10 months after rupturing her ACL in the Pulse v Steel ANZ Premiership match last year. She is playing for the Mainland side in the National Netball League and her recent return was a performance that is promising for the youngster’s future. 


Links to relevant articles/other resources

New Zealand’s favourite netball podcast is the Inside Netball podcast, brought to us by Sky Sport and hosted by a panel of our favourite netball faces, including Storm Purvis, Jenny Woods, Adine Wilson and Anna Stanley.

Storm Purvis also presents Centre Pass with Riccardo Ball, and is a breakdown of the week’s games, Storm’s team of the week and predictions for what’s coming up.

Interesting articles this month:


Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


Image: Nicole Mudgway

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