Six new play­ers in net­ball rep squad

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By AARON GOILE

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

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