Six new players in netball rep squad
There is a fresh look to this year’s Waikato squad for their national provincial championship campaign which gets under way next weekend.
Coach Rebecca Gabel has named a squad of 12, with six of those players not having featured for Waikato last year and four of them coming from outside the region.
Waikato are playing in division one for the first time since 2008, having been relegated to the second tier and working their way back up.
They have four round-robin matches next month – two away and two at home at Te Awamutu – before their final round-robin fixture against Wellington, followed by the semifinals or a battle to avoid relegation.
Waikato welcome into their ranks shooter Brooke Leaver, utility player Amy Christophers and the defensive duo of Jodi Beaumont and Greer Patterson.
Leaver debuted for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship last year and has been with the Western division two team, as have former Cambridge High School student Beaumont and Patterson.
Christophers has been with Bay of Plenty but turned out for the Waikato under-21 team this year with Leaver, and both earned trials with the national age-group side.
Returning to the squad are shooter Hayley Stockman and midcourter Tennille McDonald, both from the Verdettes club, while two players have left the region, with Rebecca Jury going to Western and Keshia Grant to Canterbury.
‘‘It is a new group and it just shows we are getting some really good talent coming to the region, so it’s only going to lift our level of performance, I think, with these young players coming in,’’ Gabel said.
In her first year in charge, Gabel will experience working with an assistant coach for the first time, that being Angela Russek, who used to coach Gabel as a player.
Along with the newer faces, there are three Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic players in the squad, Jessie Waitapu, Elias Shadrock and Jessica Tuki. Shadrock and Tuki were at the recent Silver Ferns trials and co-captains for Waikato.
‘‘It’s disappointing for them to not be in that Ferns team but it’s helpful to us to have them there,’’ Gabel said.
‘‘The three of them have come back and really stepped up their intensity.
‘‘ I love having them there, they’re great girls on the court and off the court they’re really good leaders.’’
Gabel said there was a competitive trial for places in the squad and it took a long time for them to be selected.
‘‘Most of these players haven’t had the opportunity to play in division one,’’ she said.
‘‘ There’s six teams and there’s six really strong teams. There’s not going to be one game where you can say that’s an easier one – they’re all going to be really challenging.’’
The Waikato Times