Netball: Dearns eager to build new squad

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's newly appointed assistant coach Tanya Dearns is pleased to be back in a hands-on role and is looking forward to working with a new group of players.

"It is refreshing because I don't know any of these players so you almost have a blank canvas to do some work on, so it is really exciting," Dearns said.

A change to the format of the 2012-2013 ANZ Championship enables franchises to recruit 14 players rather than 12 like last campaign, which is good news to the hopefuls involved in trials held at Aquinas College on Saturday, under the watchful eyes of Dearns and head coach Noeline Taurua.

"Noeline's thinking, and I am in full agreement with it, is that we use these trials to develop some sort of programme where we are developing above the Lion Foundation level but below the franchise," Dearns said.

"This gives us an opportunity to identify those players and those who aren't successful in making the 14 are there for extra training and building the depth. They have been in the environment and they know what to expect.

It is not a surprise for them and you then don't have to start reinventing the wheel.

"There is some real potential out here today with what we have got for the future because Leana (de Bruin) and Casey (Williams) are not going to be around forever, so we do need to build that depth and work hard on the next level."

The trials are doubly important for the Magic coaches as Dearns was unimpressed with the standard on display at last week's provincial finals held at the TECT Arena.

"I was a little disappointed with the standard. No one really lit my fire to be honest. There were some good individual bits and pieces but there wasn't anything that really stood out in a consistent way which was disappointing."

One athlete who stood out in Sunday's trials was Sarah Cowley, who competed for New Zealand at the London Olympics in the heptathlon.

The 28-year-old from Rotorua admitted to last playing a serious netball game 12 years ago when she was in the Bay of Plenty under-17 team, not that you would have known from her performances in the wing defence bib on trial.

Cowley says she wanted a new challenge after the Olympics and has never lost her love of netball.

"I always wondered about netball and getting back into it. I also wanted to be in a team environment and around a lot more women as athletics is quite a male dominated sport.

"I haven't said goodbye to athletics yet. I am not ready to do that yet but over the summer I will get back into shape. I have been focusing on netball over the last month since I got back to prepare for these trials.

"It has been great and I have enjoyed it. I trained with the Bay team a couple of times and the Magic have been really supportive of me and have given me this opportunity.

"I don't have my netball brain switched on yet but I am learning and trying to accelerate that process as fast as possible."

Magic coach Noeline Taurua would have been heartened to see the vastly experienced defender Jodi Tod in action at the trials. Tod has been with the Magic since the inception of the transtasman competition in 2008 but missed the last victorious campaign to have a break from top level netball.

Her ability to play all three defensive positions makes her an invaluable member of any netball team.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic squad will be announced on November 12.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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