Endurance and consistency the staples for Tactix in 2021

PLAYING in their first grand final last season, Mainland Tactix are hoping to go one better in ANZ Premiership season 2021 and secure that elusive trophy. Maintaining a consistent list despite the departure of goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau and subsequent pickup of Silver Ferns and two-time Central Pulse premiership player Karin Burger, the Tactix are nicely primed for the upcoming season, not wanting to change things up too much and instead boost their best features.

“We don’t want to change what we are good at so it is just specifying and understanding what we’re really good at and making sure that we are 100 per cent with those type of things,” Burger explained. “But we also need to look at being versatile and changing things up when we need to.”

“We’ve had some specialist coaches come in to try and teach us different things but again we don’t want to bombard ourselves with different things either. So it’s just making sure that what we do really well, which the Tactix have been really good at, is space marking and that we do that really well but exploring the options of one-on-one defence when we need to.”

In recent years the Tactix have been renowned for their zone style of defence rather than the body on body style, something Burger has had to adapt to in order to fit the mould at her new club while also trying to bring her own signature flair to the fore.

“I think what we’ve realised is when different people are in different positions that’s going to affect what structures we are playing and that’s exactly why you make changes. You don’t make changes just to make a change, you make them to have a different impact,” Burger said.

“So if I’m playing at wing defence, I find my best game at wing defence is when I’m man on man, whereas when I’m at goal defence, space marking is better. That’s just the awareness of whoever we put in whatever position will bring something different to the game and that is why we make those changes so we just need to adapt to it.”

Spending majority of her time out in wing defence throughout her time with the Central Pulse and occasionally filtering into the goal defence role, it is somewhat unfamiliar territory for Burger who is still trying to find her feet and solidify her role in her new colours.

“I used to be a goal defence before I played in the ANZ Premiership so it’s not a new position for me, but I feel pretty new in that position because I haven’t played in that position at this level so it’s a lot of learnings for me and to be able to play with Jane (Jane Watson) who has got a lot of experience in circle at that level it’s been awesome to learn.”

Burger made mention that her freshness to the side sometimes puts her on the back foot, as she looks to find her place out on court given her new surroundings and game plan.

“It puts me sometimes in a difficult position only because people would know structures or know things off-hand or just come natural to them where those types of things won’t be obvious for me. So it’s just that little bit of extra work for me that I have to put in to know that, but the girls that I am surrounded with are amazing and they’re really supportive and helpful so it’s been quite easy.

But yeah, definitely in a difficult position when you’re the one learning the new things when I’ve always been used to being the one saying this is what we do and being so natural at it.”

A strong presence down back with her tenacity and versatility, Burger is set to be a handy option in defence and has adapted to life at the Tactix with no problem at all. Having already established a relationship with captain and fellow defender Watson, the pair are ready to cause trouble down back.

“Yeah it’s pretty awesome, I think she is an amazing player and she is a wonderful person as well. I think we had a bit of a taster in previous years with Ferns where we had opportunities to play together. But it was never planned and I think there’s more of a set play now where I am having to be a goal defence which I’m learning to play again and I think it’s that journey or that discovery of what my play on goal defence looks like at this level.”

“She’s [Jane] a very instinctive player and she plays on reaction which I’m not necessarily as used to which again is a learning to me but I’m enjoying it a lot and I’m learning quite a bit.”

With the preseason done and dusted and only days away from their Round 1 opener against Southern Steel, Burger made note of a couple of key learnings highlighting the endurance of the squad and the midcourt in particular, whilst also emphasising the importance of closing out games rather than only dominating in patches.

“I think learnings from the previous season with the Pulse as well any time that a team stays the together is a great thing for the team as a whole,” Burger said. “So it’s an amazing thing for the Tactix as a unit where I’m the only new person who is having to learn the new things.

“The one thing we are really proud of is that we are quite a fit team, we realised that our quarter three and four are the quarters we really pull through but also acknowledging that we can’t wait until our quarter three and four.”

Burger’s praise and excitement for the Tactix did not stop there, expressing the excitement and faith she has in the next generation of players at the club to step up to the plate and ply their trade at ANZ Premiership level.

“What I really like about our team is regardless of who we put on, we made changes that came on seamlessly. So having that confidence of when we get into the season and anything happens, I think we have had a few niggles here and there and might not be involved in the first game due to injuries but we are confident in the players that we do have, that they will be able to do their job,” she said. “I’m just really happy to know the young ones coming through when they get their opportunity take them.”

With her goals for the squad clear, her intentions on a personal level are also evident with Burger making the switch from the Pulse to the Tactix in hope to develop her leadership skills both on and off the court.

“I think I just got to a point where I felt like I needed to develop those sort of skills a little bit more and see what I can do in that front, and not necessarily with the idea to one day be in a leadership role but rather just be able to push myself and my personal leadership to see what I can do.

“I am always on the lookout on ways to improve myself a little bit more so I think that was a big area that I needed to work on.”

While the league may have changed immensely over the off-season with a number of fresh faces across the competition, the Tactix are considered favourites even though that mantle does not sit overly comfortably with Burger.

When articles like “we’re the favourites” come out I’m not really happy about them because you never know. It’s a new year, it’s a new season, so many new faces to the teams so it’s just about putting it out there and hopefully we can win the title.

Having fallen just short of the title themselves last year and Burger all too familiar with the taste of success, it is clear that the Tactix have one goal and one goal and that is to win.

“Obviously we want to win, we want to take the title.”

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