The five players with most to prove in NZ Premiership
The fifth edition of the netball premiership begins next Sunday with the two-time defending champion Pulse getting the competition started against the new-look Northern Stars, who have recruited strongly. Brendon Egan looks at five players who will be und
Caitlin Bassett (Magic)
All eyes will be on Australian legend Bassett when she makes her premiership debut for the Magic against the Mystics next Monday. The 102-cap test veteran will play under traditional netball rules in New Zealand after she was effectively forced out of Australia’s Super Netball due to the controversial ‘super shot’ twopoint rule.
If Bassett wants to feature for Australia at next year’s Commonwealth Games, she’ll need to regain top form for the Magic. Bassett lost her Australian starting goal shoot role to Cara Koenen in March’s Constellation Cup and played just eight minutes in the final three tests against the Silver Ferns, not getting on court in two. The pressure is on Bassett this season.
Kelly Jury (Pulse)
With Ferns centurion Katrina Rore (pregnant) and Karin Burger (now with the Tactix) both missing, Jury is suddenly the senior leader in the Pulse defensive end.
The Pulse have plenty of firepower in their attacking circle and midcourt, but if they are to achieve a third title in a row, Jury will need to lead the way defensively. She has no shortage of motivation to impress after being one of five players sent home from a Silver Ferns training camp for not meeting fitness criteria. That ruled Jury out of the selection picture for the Constellation
Cup. New Pulse coach Gail Parata has said Jury will be used in the unfamiliar goal defence role this season, as well as her usual goal keep position.
Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Tactix)
A member of the Silver Ferns’ 2019 World Cup winning squad, Selby-Rickit’s last international was at the Nations Cup in January 2020.
The 46-test shooter wasn’t selected for last year’s Taini Jamison Trophy series against England and also missed March’s Constellation Cup after not meeting the yoyo test conditioning standard. Selby-Rickit did have an extenuating circumstance, not having run for two months as she worked her way back from an Achilles injury.
Monica Falkner appears to have leapfrogged Selby-Rickit as Ameliaranne Ekenasio’s Ferns’ back-up at goal attack and other young attackers are also pushing for selection. In her second season with the Canterbury Tactix, Selby-Rickit will be determined to perform strongly alongside goal shoot Ellie Bird to force her way back into the Ferns. She is battling an ankle sprain, which could rule her out of the start of the season.
Karin Burger (Tactix)
Burger appeared poised for a major opportunity in the Constellation Cup, getting the chance to make the Ferns’ starting goal defence berth her own. Ferns
coach Noeline Taurua opted for the height of Sulu Fitzpatrick at goal keep in the opening match against Australia’s Basset, which pushed the brilliant Jane Watson to goal defence. Fitzpatrick was so effective, she spent most of the series there, restricting Burger’s court-time. Shifting from the Pulse to the Tactix, Burger will line up alongside Watson in the defensive circle, which will only strengthen their combination and allow her to grow her game at goal defence.
Having split time at wing defence and goal defence previously, Burger should thrive concentrating on GD.
Tiana Metuarau (Steel)
Metuarau has made the big move south, leaving the Pulse, where she was a popular member of the team. She admitted she cried for days as she weighed up her netball future.
Joining the Steel was a wise decision for the 20-yearold, who has long been regarded as one of New Zealand’s brightest young netballers.
At the Pulse, she saw limited court-time at goal attack behind Silver Ferns captain Ekenasio. She is set for significant court time at the Steel, likely starting alongside England international George Fisher.
In a fresh Steel attacking end, Metuarau will need to be at her best and produce consistent shooting performances. Receiving feeds from experienced Ferns midcourter Shannon Saunders should ease the burden. Most expect the Steel to struggle this season and if they’re to defy that prediction, Metuarau must shine.