Netball: Fuller joins Mystics in bid to outsmart Australians

By Dana Johannsen

The Northern Mystics continue to move forward in the post-Yvonne Willering era, appointing former Silver Fern Debbie Fuller (nee Matoe) as their defensive coach.

Fuller joins Te Aroha Keenan on the coaching staff, with the side still looking for a technical analyst.

The Mystics have also brought two trainers on board to do conditioning work with the team. Chief executive Mark Cameron describes the set-up for next year as a "move towards a more professional coaching structure".

Fuller has coached the Bay of Plenty NPC side for the past two seasons, but earned her coaching stripes in Wellington under Silver Ferns assistant Waimarama Taumaunu.

The former Silver Fern defender was a selector for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic side this year, but after watching the inaugural ANZ Championship season "from the couch", Fuller decided she wanted to play a more hands-on role in the competition.

"What really jumped out at me was this is a new game. It's faster, it's more dynamic and it's demanding of a different athlete to be able to play at that level continuously for a longer period of time, so that's what really intrigued me about being part of the competition," she said.

With the Mystics losing Silver Ferns Sheryl Scanlan and Leana de Bruin in the off-season, Fuller is faced with re-building the defensive unit.

While Fuller said it was a shame to have lost the experienced pair, she is confident the likes of Vilimaina Davu, Stephanie Bond and Rachel Rasmussen can do the job.

But her involvement won't been just limited to those wearing the defenders' bibs.

"The hard defence has to come from the goal-shoot and goal-attack just as much as it has to come from the goal-keep and goal-defence," she said.

"Again that's what this competition has done, it's forced netballers to think about being a whole player, being strong on attack and strong on defence."

With New Zealand's history of producing world class defenders like Yvonne Willering, Taumaunu, Tracey Fear, Bernice Mene, Vilimaina Davu and more recently Casey Williams, Fuller believes the Kiwi teams need to play to their defensive strengths if they are to make an impact in the transtasman league.

"I don't think defensively they [Australian teams] are as smart as the New Zealand defenders. New Zealanders have always been really good at reading the game and reading the plays and aren't afraid to take risks, and that's where I think New Zealand teams can build on their strengths on that," she said.

- NZ Herald

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