Fun Factor Returns For Rejuvenated Pulse Defender
Injury-free and the fittest she’s ever been have gone hand-in-hand with a fresh start for long-limbed defender Kelly Jury as she settles into a new netball life with Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.
Hampered by major shoulder injury, requiring a reconstruction and further corrective surgery, has slowed Jury’s progress over the last couple of years. But the extra time afforded by the Covid-19 lockdown has left the 1.92m defender, who switched to the Pulse in the off-season after five years with the Magic, poised to strike.
``During lockdown we were put in the situation where we had to be accountable for ourselves individually and I found it a really good period of time where I could just solely focus on my fitness and I had all day to do it, so, no excuses,’’ Jury said.
``I’m really proud of myself and how I came back from lockdown. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and my shoulder feels the strongest it’s felt in years, so I couldn’t ask for anything more, really.
``Going out there on Sunday (vs Stars) was the first game in a few years where I haven’t had to worry about anything and I just had so much fun. I’d forgotten what it’s like not having to worry about a shoulder popping out or that kind of thing, I could just play which was really nice.’’
In recent years, the Pulse have relied on a smaller, mobile in-circle defensive unit but as one of the tallest defenders in the league, Jury’s extra height adds another dimension for the defending champions.
And that will be required when the Pulse come up against a well-tuned Northern Mystics in Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership in Auckland on Monday and the towering presence of teenaged shooting sensation Grace Nweke.
The Pulse had an impressive opener in last weekend’s re-start of the league with a big win over the Northern Stars but are well aware it’s still early days.
``Yvette (McCausland-Durie, coach) is always reminding us that we’re only as good as our next performance. So, we’ve reflected on what we did the other night and were really happy with that but we’ve still got a lot to work on,’’ Jury said.
``Heading towards the Mystics, they’ve obviously got a very different type of shooting circle with a tall holding shooter, so we’ve had to adjust some of our game plan things in terms of what we’re going to do in that circle but we’re ready to take them on.’’
A key cog in the NZU21 win at the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup and capped 22 times for the Silver Ferns before injury stalled her continued progression, the rejuvenated 23-year-old is revelling in her own personal career re-start with a new team.
``The Pulse girls are really awesome, it’s such a great group and that starts from the top with Yvette and how she runs the show. She’s an awesome lady and we all have heaps of fun,’’ Jury said.
``I’ve been here for 7 – 8 months and definitely feel that this is home now and I’m really happy with my decision to make the change.’’
The coach couldn’t be happier with how Jury has slotted into the Pulse environment.
``She’s done really well and we’re excited about having Kelly,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``She got some good gains (six intercepts and three deflections) for us last week and one of the biggest things is that we’ve seen a massive shift physically and that’s given her huge potential to compete.’’