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Pulse Keen To Set The Tone In Campaign Opener

Embracing the hard graft of a long pre-season, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse now can’t wait to showcase that endeavour in their ANZ Premiership netball season-opener against the Stars in Auckland on Sunday.

With plenty of bumps, bruises and hurdles provided along the way during the 12-week build-up, the players are now more than ready to put their credentials to the test in the eighth edition of New Zealand’s premier domestic league.

``We’ve had a couple of good hit-outs during the pre-season to get the cobwebs out and look at different combinations. It’s been 12 weeks and it feels like it’s been 12 weeks and now we’re ready to get going this weekend,’’ Pulse coach Anna Andrews-Tasola said.

``Everyone’s worked extremely hard over the pre-season on and off the court, so we’re all looking forward to getting on court this weekend with everybody locked in and focussed for that.’’

Returning in 2024 with a reasonably stable team, the Pulse have blended three newcomers into this year’s line-up with shooter Khiarna Williams, midcourter Parris Petera and defender Kelea Iongi joining the team in yellow and black.

However, the Pulse will not be at full strength for their season-opener with explosive goal attack Tiana Metuarau ruled out with a foot niggle. With a lengthy season ahead, the Pulse are taking a precautionary approach with Metuarau.

There’s also a new coaching combination with former assistant Andrews-Tasola coming into her first season as head coach and Kim Howard lining up as her assistant for the first time at this level.

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``What I’m most proud of is our leadership group, who have made sure that the new team members who have come in understand our standards and feel comfortable in our environment while also being able to excel and push each other,’’ Andrews-Tasola said.

``We’re committed to providing an environment for all to excel. Kim and I are very different but it works really well. Because I’ve been here for quite a long time, she brings a lot of new energy and new ideas and I’m really grateful for everything Kim brings to the table.’’

The Stars have undergone significant change since last season, including introducing four newcomers in 2024 and two – Kate Burley and Lisa Mather – who have previously played for the team, making a return to the purple strip.

They present as something of an unknown quantity which has Andrews-Tasola on guard.

``They are a bit unknown and that makes them very dangerous because there’s no expectation and they can play with a lot of freedom,’’ she said.

``So, we’re not taking this game lightly, at all. They are well coached and they have a great foundation with Maia (Wilson, shooter), Mila (Reuelu-Buchanan, midcourter) and Kate (Burley, defender) who set that team, so we’re looking forward to a great contest.’’

Opening rounds are often illustrations of teams finding their feet and taking time to establish patterns but Andrews-Tasola is hoping the Pulse can hit the ground running from the first whistle.

``Growth and confidence are the biggest things for us,’’ she said. ``They’ve all worked really hard behind the scenes and now it’s about putting out the performance.’’

© Scoop Media

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