Top 10 teams we are looking forward to seeing in 2021: #7 Mainland Tactix

IT has been an unconventional year of netball and as 2020 comes to a close, the Draft Central team casts an eye to the future and which teams we are excited to see take the court for the 2021 season. There has been a number of player changes throughout the offseason across the ANZ Premiership, Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) with retirements, pregnancies, and injuries impacting some teams. But that does not mean that next year will not be action packed with some fresh faces elevated to full time rosters and internationals joining new leagues. In at number seven is Mainland Tactix, who enjoyed a rapid rise up the ladder in 2020 and have bolstered their ranks heading into next season.

Some solid off-season recruiting at the end of 2019 saw the Mainland Tactix rocket up the ladder in 2020 and play in their first grand final in ANZ Premiership history. The acquisition of Silver Ferns goaler Te Paea Selby-Rickit paid dividends with the goal attack able to play a supplementary role to the dominant Ellie Bird, proving a real playmaker in the attacking third. Bird grew in confidence as their combination steadily developed throughout the season and with another pre-season under their, belt the pair could definitely add to their repertoire and become a formidable force given their versatility and scoring prowess.

There is no shortage of options through the midcourt with Kimiora Poi leading the charge in centre and set to once again steer the ship with her dynamic movement and spatial awareness. She is a real energiser bunny that can play both a defensive and offensive role, such are her netball smarts, and she took the step up this season. She was well aided by the returning Erikana Pedersen, with the wing attack quick on the release and crafty with ball in hand, while Samon Nathan proved to be an impact player highlighting just how many options the Tactix have.

After starring this season, the Tactix have added another string to their bow in securing the services of two time premiership player and Silver Fern, Karin Burger with the defender a real game changer down back. She is able to swing between goal defence and wing defence with ease, credit to her high netball nous and overall court coverage. Although she is an exciting pick-up, the Tactix have also farewelled dynamic goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau. This change up will more than likely push Jane Watson into her more familiar goal keeper role and allow Burger to roam freely out the front in goal defence, making for an exciting combination credit to their aerial skillset and reading of the play. Somewhat of an underrated prospect back in that wing defence position, Charlotte Elley, had glimpses of brilliance and will be hoping to really make a splash in the upcoming season with her court coverage, hands over pressure, and ball winning ability which will complement the defensive nature of Burger and Watson.

Despite losing Fakahokotau, Mainland have been able to retain all of their 2020 list and picked up a handy replacement in Burger, painting them as serious contenders for the ANZ Premiership title in 2021. With youth on their side there is plenty of upside given Elley and Poi are still developing their craft but have proven to be real livewires. Overall, the Tactix have an impressive mix of experience and youth, allowing players to find their feet and the more senior players to guide the path forward.

Picture credit: Michael Bradley

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