Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic see youth as key to depth

Auckland teenage trio of Kendra Falefitu, Nadia Loveday and Jaime Lee Price added to bolster the ranks

Shooter Julianna Naoupu has been lured back to her home town of Christchurch to play for the Tactix. Photo / Christine Cornege
Shooter Julianna Naoupu has been lured back to her home town of Christchurch to play for the Tactix. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Magic have looked outside their region to boost the franchise's depth, signing three Auckland teenagers for next year's transtasman league.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty side yesterday confirmed their line-up for the 2013 season, with Noeline Taurua retaining the bulk of this year's championship winning team, including star Silver Ferns quartet - Casey Williams, Leana de Bruin, Laura Langman and Irene van Dyk.

But it was the inclusion of young Auckland trio Kendra Falefitu, 19, Nadia Loveday, 18, and Jaime Lee Price, 17, the daughter of Australian rugby league great Steve Price, that was the biggest talking point of yesterday's announcement.

Falefitu has been signed to a full contract, while Mt Albert Grammar students Loveday and Price will occupy the two development spots on the Magic's roster.

The development spots are new this year, with the New Zealand squad sizes increasing from 12 to 14. Most franchises have used the extra spots to develop young talent from their own regions, but the Magic have looked further north.

Magic assistant coach Tanya Dearns said while Price and Loveday are still very young, they've been picked up now with the view to building depth for the future.

"In recent years, Magic has probably struggled with finding a consistent depth. There's been a lot of work done in the past couple of years to build that depth and raise the levels. The plan is to keep building on that and we believe that will happen with this group," said Dearns.

While the Australian franchises revealed their line-ups months ago, the Magic are the only Kiwi side to have officially announced their full 2013 squad.

Provisional squads were submitted to the ANZ Championship office yesterday, with the finalised rosters to be confirmed next week.

The only loss from the Magic's starting side that took the court in the grand final is young shooter Julianna Naoupu, who has been lured back to her home town of Christchurch to play for the Tactix after stints with the Steel and Magic. The Magic have in turn picked up Canterbury shooter Ellen Halpenny. It is hoped the experience of playing alongside Irene van Dyk will fast-track Halpenny's progress through the elite ranks.

The addition of Naoupu is a major boost for the Tactix side that have finished bottom of the table for the past three seasons. They've also picked up English midcourter Jade Clarke, who will join her national teammate Jo Harten at the Tactix after being squeezed out of the Mystics team by Julie Corletto.

The Central Pulse have only officially confirmed the return of their captain Katrina Grant for next year. They plan to hold off announcing their team until later this week. However, the Herald understands the Wellington-based franchise have re-signed Camilla Lees, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Joline Henry and Daya Wiffen from this year's team, along with Australian import Caitlin Thwaites.

Silver Ferns midcourter Liana Leota, who took time off to have a baby this year, is also believed to have signed with the Pulse. It is still unclear whether Leota's former Steel teammate Donna Wilkins has committed to the Pulse for next season.

The Steel have once again named a very young line-up, but are hopeful of adding an experienced shooter to the mix.


• Silver Ferns captain Casey Williams has been ruled out of the Fast5 World Series in Auckland after tweaking her ankle in last week's final test win over Australia.

Williams will be replaced by Selby-Rickit for the three-day tournament beginning on Friday, while Laura Langman will take over the captaincy.

- NZ Herald

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