ANZ Premiership preview: 2021 bottom three
IT is not long until the ANZ Premiership kicks off for another season, with Rookie Me Central taking a look at how each team is shaping up ahead of the new year. In this edition of the two-part preview, we look at the bottom three sides.
Last season: 4th
Compared to their rivals, the Northern Stars have not changed too much, with a big inclusion coming back from pregnancy and already having an impact on the international stage. Kayla Johnson (nee Cullen) will join soon-to-be 39-year-old Anna Harrison, whilst Elle Temu also provides depth there with the departure of Oceane Maihi to the Magic. Monica Falkner was the other one to leave to head to the Mystics, with Holly Fowler rejoining the side after a season away. Given the inclusion of Johnson and Fowler, it means all 10 full-time squad members have at some point played for the Stars.
Aside from the inclusions, the Stars have plenty of talent across the board with Jamie Hume being a sensational shooter up front along with Silver Ferns goal shooter Maia Wilson. Whilst Gina Crampton is a crucial cog in wing attack to get it to the pair, the midcourt of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather will be just as difficult to contain. Rounding out the squad is backup shooter Amorangi Malesala. Though the Stars might have finished fourth, they were title favourites earlier in the season as ladder leaders, before fading late and missing out on finals altogether, something they would be very keen to change this season.
In: Kayla Johnson, Holly Fowler (Magic)
Out: Monica Falkner (Mystics), Oceane Maihi (Magic)
Last season: 5th
Central Pulse will need to overcome the loss of a trio of massive names in order to try and rise up the ladder in 2022. The loss of Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Claire Kersten and – although she did not play the 2021 season due to her pregnancy – Katrina Rore who have all joined the last placed Magic. Kelera Nawai also departed to join the Tactix. In their place, they have brought in some Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) experienced talents, as well as a rising star shooter who could be the future Ekenasio having already cracked into the Silver Ferns side.
Tiana Metuarau is a much needed replacement for the incredible Ekenasio, with the young gun to team up with Aliyah Dunn in the shooting circle. Whitney Souness will provide the feeds, with former Sunshine Coast Lightning shooter Binnian Hunt also joining the Pulse. The defensive core also received a boost, with ex-GIANTS Netball talent Kristiana Manu’a to fill the shoes left by Rore, and team up with Kelly Jury. Though rising midcourter Maddy Gordon will not be available to start the season, the Pulse do have depth with the likes of Paris Lokotui, Amelia Walmsley and Australian recruit Courtney Elliott among the full-time squad members.
In: Temalisi Fakahokotau (Magic), Binnian Hunt (Sunshine Coast Lightning), Kristiana Manu’a (Giants), Tiana Metuarau (Steel), Amelia Walmsley, Courtney Elliott
Out: Te Amo Amaru-Tibble, Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Magic), Claire Kersten (Magic), Parris Mason (2022 training partner), Kelera Nawai (Tactix)
WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC
Last season: 6th
Waikato Bay of Plenty of Magic have not messed around over the off-season, with the reigning back-to-back reigning wooden spooners recruiting a massive four silver Ferns to join current midcourter Samantha Winders. In what should be a massive change of fortunes for the unlucky club, the loss of Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett among six departures including Temalisi Fakahokotau and Holly Fowler (Stars) will be offset by some serious firepower.
The shooting circle will feature long-bomb specialist Ameliaranne Ekenasio who has arrived from the Pulse with midcourter Claire Kersten. Whilst Kersten will work alongside Winders in the midcourt, Ekenasio was not the only big arrival up front. Fellow Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes has crossed from the Mystics for the season, whilst the defence has also received a facelift. Silver Ferns defender Katrina Rore was another Pulse player to take up a role at the Magic but announced her pregnancy with her second child, while Oceane Maihi joined from the Stars. Given the strength of the inclusions, it will mean less imapct on the loss of the injured Khiarna Williams for the first two months of the season. Rounding out the square are the likes of Erena Mikaere, Georgie Edgecombe and Georgia Tong.
In: Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Pulse), Claire Kersten (Pulse), Oceane Maihi (Stars), Bailey Mes (Mystics), Ivana Rowland (training partner)
Out: Caitlin Bassett (Australia), Temalisi Fakahokotau (Pulse), Holly Fowler (Stars), Grace Kara, Tori Kolose, Chiara Semple, Khiarna Williams (injured)