Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Netball: Magic to have finger on Pulse in opener

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Cold Power Magic will be captained by veteran defender Leana de Bruin.
Cold Power Magic will be captained by veteran defender Leana de Bruin.

Cold Power Magic head coach Julie Fitzgerald is typically upbeat about her team's prospects ahead of tonight's opening match against the Central Pulse in Wellington (7.30pm start).

The Australian who coached NSW Swifts from 2008-2011 before joining the Magic was happy with how well the build-up went.

"Like any pre-season tournament there were highs and lows. The thing I really appreciated from it was the fact that we played without three of our senior players in Grace [Rasmussen], Courtney [Tairi] and Leana [de Bruin] and some of our young kids had an enormous work load but performed extremely well," Fitzgerald said.

Despite missing pregnant captain Casey Kopua for the season, Fitzgerald was pleased to have retained the rest of her 2015 squad that went all the way to the semifinals before losing to the Swifts.

In Kopua's absence the Magic have picked up shooter Paula Griffin who has played 74 ANZ Championship games with the Mystics, Central Pulse and Southern Steel.

"Paula has fitted into our group really, really well and I am so impressed with the improvement she's made already. It is going to be really interesting to see how she develops across the year," Fitzgerald said.

"Aisha Bower is out for quite a long time as well and we have replaced her with Catherine Coffin so we do have a really balanced side now position-wise. We have invested an awful lot in our young players."

Bay of Plenty netball fans will have the opportunity to see the Magic up close in key matches coming up. They play the Steel at Rotorua's Energy Events Centre on Sunday April 17 with two games scheduled for Mount Maunganui's ASB Arena against the Fever on Monday May 9 and against the Pulse on Monday May 30.

Key rule changes have been introduced this season to try and speed the game up and get rid of the petulant whistle blowing that annoys spectators and television viewers so much.

Umpires will no longer blow when a goal has been scored or when the ball goes out of court, which could reduce the amount of whistle by up to 40 per cent.

Other changes are that the team awarded a penalty is not required to wait for the infringing player to stand down before play continues plus there will be no injury stoppages this year, with players replaced immediately if they call an injury time out.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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