2021 ANZ Premiership: Top 10 quiet achievers – #9 Claire Kersten

OW that the ANZ Premiership season has come to a close Draft Central takes a look back at some of the quiet achievers that effectively plied their trade throughout the year. Coming in at number nine is Pulse captain Claire Kersten.

Missing a number of lynchpins and experienced players heading into season 2021, it was up to Kersten to lead from the front. With no Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Katrina Rore and Karin Burger with the latter joining Mainland Tactix the Pulse were littered with young, up and coming players. It took a while for the Pulse to settle into their lineup but one thing that remained the same was the workload of Kersten who plied her trade up both ends of the court, often acting as a link between defence and attack.

Kersten is one of those players that does not do all the fancy stuff but is capable of winning a game off her own back thanks to her sheer output and court craft. The fancy footed midcourter showcased her capacity to flick between centre and wing defence within a blink of an eye highlighting her smarts and leadership to keep the Pulse within striking distance.

The Pulse captain reached into her bag of tricks to be a commanding force down back with her footwork around circle edge to create tips and deflections while her three foot marking is also key. Although not the quickest player out on court, Kersten displayed time and time again her ability to transition the ball through court with great speed and tenacity. She was not afraid to take the game on and had full confidence in the team around her to do the job.

Her connection with Maddy Gordon was exciting for fans while her partnership with Whitney Souness steadily built throughout the season. With no Ekenasio out the front, it was often up to Kersten to do the heavy lifting around circle edge to feed into the likes of Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble which she did with great ease and confidence throughout the season. Kersten was not afraid to release the ball from down town or weave her magic closer to circle edge to deliver into the goalers. The midcourter was a calming presence in an otherwise chaotic attack end filled with new connections. Her ability to effectively choose the right pass and execute it into the shooters was crucial as was her constant hustle and desire to pick up the loose ball and reclaim possession for the Pulse.

It was a trying season for the Pulse, only registering four wins but Kersten was nothing short of impressive. Her ability to read the play and impact it cleanly was second to none each and every time she stepped out on court. She finished with 20 deflections, 26 pickups, 11 intercepts, 403 feeds and 105 penalties to her name across 902 minutes of play.

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