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Australian Shooting Great On Board With Pulse

With her first venture being cut short four years ago, former Australian netball captain Vicki Wilson makes a welcome return in adding her expertise to this year’s Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse ANZ Premiership campaign.

All set to be an influential figure with the team in 2020, Wilson’s participation was derailed when Covid struck and now gets the opportunity to rectify some unfinished business.

Her involvement this year stretches across the Netball Central Zone, her first visit four weeks ago taking in the Pulse, a training session with National Netball League sister team Central Manawa, while also connecting with community coaches and holding a coach education session with performance coaches in the Zone.

Wilson returns this week and will see the Pulse first-hand in game mode when they attend the pre-season tournament in Dunedin at the weekend (March 22 – 24).

``My purpose here ticks a number of boxes and I’m thrilled to be back,’’ she said. ``I just find it familiar territory, it’s great to be on court working with players of that (Pulse) calibre and alongside Anna (Andrews-Tasola, Pulse coach) while also being involved in the development space.’’

Wilson, who played over 100 tests for Australia during a 15-year international career and was the world’s best goal shoot during the 1990s is no stranger to New Zealanders.

In 2013, she was embraced on this side of the Tasman when becoming the Silver Ferns assistant coach to Waimarama Taumaunu, now Netball Central’s Director of High Performance, in the lead-up to the 2015 Netball World Cup, the first Australian to be involved with New Zealand at this level.

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She has coached on many fronts, including as head coach of the Queensland Firebirds and Fiji as well as an assistant with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Wilson has struck an instant rapport with Andrews-Tasola, who has stepped into the role as head coach for the first time at this level.

``First and foremost, my role is about establishing that strong coaching connection with Anna, being a coaching peer with her and sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences. There’s so much value in doing that,’’ Wilson said.

``I find a lot of people are guarded and I’m certainly not one of those. I like to be able to share and Anna is inquisitive, so we have constantly exchanged ideas, shared stories and experiences. Those sorts of conversations are just so invaluable.

``What I like about Anna is she has done the groundwork of being in the system for a few years but she’s also fresh. She’s brought in fresh ideas and her approach is fresh. She just hasn’t got out someone’s notebook and repeated what everyone else has done for years and years and years.’’

With the Pulse, Wilson covered some specialist shooting work with Amelia Walmsley, Tiana Metuarau and Khiarna Williams, being impressed with their openness to feedback and willingness to apply themselves. She’s also had a session with the midcourt.

``They’re all still very young and I found the dynamic of working with them just fabulous,’’ she said of the shooters. ``It challenged me to be able to do things that would appeal to their style of game and also build on their strengths.

From working with the Pulse to Manawa to helping coaches, the well-credentialled Wilson has been in her element while finding all aspects very satisfying.

``I feel so at home with the Central Zone because they’re big on development and developing their own and I strongly believe in that system,’’ she said.

``It’s a common thread for a lot of coaches in many sports that everyone wants the ready-made player and no-one’s prepared to do the time and the hard yards in the development area but you reap the rewards at a later date. It’s so vital to continue to make sure your pipeline flows through your area.’’

For Walmsley, who made rapid strides as the key scorer for the Pulse last season, the exchanges have been invaluable as she continues to build on her repertoire.

``She’s done a lot on the technique of my shot and helped all of us with different ways of doing things,’’ Walmsley said. ``Just having a different perspective and new ideas has really added to our personal and team development.

``I absolutely love her as a person and her input has been really cool.’’

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