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All Roads Lead To Ōtaki For Pre-season Tester

All teams will get a prime opportunity to test the waters during the fourth edition of the Te Wānanga o Raukawa hosted ANZ Premiership pre-season netball tournament in Ōtaki on February 28 – March 1.

The popular tournament will continue with the extended programme introduced last year which involves 11 games over three days as teams look to fine-tune ahead of their season-openers just two weeks later.

``This tournament is hugely valuable because it’s our only opportunity really to look at the other opposition and to test ourselves one last time,’’ Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

``We’re not going in with any extras, just our 2020 team of 10, so it’s a really good chance just to keep putting some combinations together.’’

After two pre-season games against the Queensland Firebirds three weeks ago quickly followed by a fleeting visit to Queenstown for matches against the Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel, McCausland-Durie is ``reasonably happy’’ with how the defending champions are currently travelling.

``The area where we needed to put time in to, we have, and that’s been largely through getting those couple of extra games which has made a massive difference,’’ she said.

``The bit that I’m interested in for us is how quickly we adapt and adjust in games. We haven’t had a lot of games, we know what we need to do, we know we’ve got the players but how quickly do we change things when needed?

``In the past that’s something we’ve got better at in-season but we need to start that way from the get-go.’’

Having not tasted any contact action since the end of last season, the Pulse are hopeful their lanky off-season signing Kelly Jury will get to make a long-awaited first appearance for her new team in Ōtaki.

After undergoing corrective shoulder surgery several months ago, the 1.92m defender is on target to get some precious minutes under her belt in a new-look Pulse defence line.

All six teams – Pulse, Northern Mystics, Northern Stars, WBoP Magic, Tactix and Steel, including management, officials and umpires – will be accommodated at the Te Wānanga o Raukawa campus in Ōtaki, north of Wellington, for four days.

All matches will be played at the Māori Tertiary Education provider’s health and fitness facility, Ngā Purapura with time for all involved to embrace and enjoy the special significance of the cultural engagement which includes a powhiri for all teams and officials, cultural activities and living together on the marae.

``We really enjoy the whole experience,’’ Steel coach Reinga Bloxham said. ``Getting the court time is obviously fantastic but having the experience of being amongst the people there at Te Wānanga o Raukawa and the associated hospitality is amazing.

``It’s really quite unique in the fact that you’re doing it marae style and you’re all in one room together…... that really helps with your team culture and bonding and you get to know each other deeply on all sorts of levels and it’s a very cool experience.’’

Friday, February 28 
Pulse v Tactix – 11am
Mystics v Steel – 1pm
Stars v Magic – 4pm
Pulse v Steel – 6pm

Saturday, February 29
Pulse v Stars – 11am
Steel v Magic – 1pm
Mystics v Tactix – 4pm
Pulse v Magic – 6pm

Sunday, March 1
Steel v Stars – 9am
Tactix v Magic – 11am
Pulse v Mystics – 1pm

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