A prominent player manager has hit out at the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic's handling of contract negotiations, revealing that a disillusioned Joline Henry, co-captain of the side this season, is leaving the franchise.
Henry, 26, in Wellington this week taking part in Silver Ferns trials, has signed to play for the Northern Mystics in next year's ANZ Championship.
The star defender is the second Magic player the Mystics have snared for next season, with shooter Maria Tutaia also making the move north.
But while Auckland-born Tutaia's decision to sign with the Mystics was based on family reasons, Henry, who has played for the Magic since she was a teenager, is leaving after being treated poorly by the Waikato side, according to her manager, John Davey.
He said despite attracting big money offers elsewhere, the Waikato stalwart wished to remain loyal to the Magic "but that loyalty wasn't reciprocated".
Davey, the Waikato Pistons basketball chief executive who assists a number of Magic players in contract negotiations, is furious at the way the Magic have gone about their recruitment and retention of players.
"I personally have been disillusioned with the negotiating process, I don't believe a lot of ethics have been shown," he said.
It is believed the Magic offered Henry a reduced contract for next season, having put much of their financial resource towards retaining their key talent at each end of the court - Irene van Dyk and Casey Williams - as well recruiting a new shooter to replace Tutaia.
It is rumoured the Magic have signed former Silver Fern Jodi Brown, although neither the Magic nor Brown have confirmed the deal.
"Joline was happy to stay with Waikato, she has been very, very loyal and she was happy to remain loyal but as things transpired, while it was an option to stay, it wasn't an option, if you know what I mean," said Davey.
"The goalposts moved with what could be done for her here, so at the end of the day the call was made it was better to move on."
Henry said last night that she was a Waikato girl through and through, but after 10 years playing in the region she was looking forward to new challenges at the Mystics.
The latest revelations will further dent the popularity of the Magic, who are increasingly losing favour with the netball public.
Privately, Netball New Zealand will also be very disappointed with the Magic's approach. It was hoped the Waikato side would take the loss of Tutaia on the chin and look to develop the likes of bench players Jessica Tuki and Halana Leith rather than try to snare even more of NZ's top talent.
Mystics coach Te Aroha Keenan said while it was disappointing the way things wound up for Henry at the Magic, she was thrilled to have the Silver Ferns defender on board.
"I think it took a lot for her to make that decision, so we're really pleased that that's the way it's gone for us," said Keenan.
"There are a lot of pluses that come with Joline, we get a really good player as well as someone who has held those leadership roles."
The move to the Mystics may see Henry switch back to the defensive circle, having spent most of the past two seasons as wing defence.