A finger on the Pulse
Central Pulse are surprisingly optimistic on the eve of the ANZ netball championship.
The 2011 competition got under way on the weekend and the Pulse have been looking forward to it, despite finishing last or second-last for three years running.
Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said the players know their job.
‘‘We have to win matches,’’ she said.
‘‘We have to win more than one match. We want to gain the respect we feel we deserve.’’
In a pre-season mini-tournament in Queenstown, the Pulse won their first three matches, then lost to Queensland Firebirds in the final.
McCausland-Durie said the wins were beneficial to the team.
‘‘They’ve put in a lot of work since November and are feeling good about going into the competition,’’ she said.
‘‘The wins have given the team a bit of confidence and belief in ourselves.’’
Pulse captain and Silver Fern Katrina Grant said Queenstown was good because it showed the Pulse players they could win games.
‘‘It proved we can win, that we do want to win,’’ she said.
Grant said there were a lot of close games last year that the team was not able to finish. The Queenstown results turned this feeling around.
Since last season the Pulse have lost captain Jane Altschwager, Ama Agbeze, Paula Griffin and Jamilah Gupwell, but have gained Amber Bellringer, Victoria Smith, Caitlin Thwaites and Jade Topia.
Importantly, they retained Silver Fern mid-courter Camilla Lees.
Grant describes her new teammates as strong players. She said some were new to the competition but were excited about the challenge.
‘‘Caitlin and Vic are top players and have really helped build our team up,’’ Grant said.
McCausland-Durie said Grant’s international experience was beneficial for the team, particularly her ability to play under pressure.
There has been speculation in Wellington about what Grant might do when her two-year contract with the Pulse ends after this season, but she said she had not given the matter much thought. ‘‘I love Wellington,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a beautiful city, a great city, so I don’t really want to leave.’’
Although the trans-Tasman championship began on Saturday, the Pulse are not in action until February 19 when they play the Northern Mystics, who boast five Silver Ferns to the Pulse’s two, at Te Rauparaha Arena – the Pulse’s new home turf.
Grant said there were a lot of tough teams full of experienced players and that coming up against any of them was daunting.
‘‘ We have already won a few games, which is good though, but every game is going to be tough.’’
Hopeful: Pulse captain Katrina Grant hopes a promising pre-season form will translate into championship victories.