Netball: Star pair score with move

By Grant Chapman

Daryl and Julie Corletto with their dog Jack at Takapuna Beach.
Photo / Doug Sherring
Daryl and Julie Corletto with their dog Jack at Takapuna Beach. Photo / Doug Sherring

Julia Corletto should probably expect the call any day now. Ring, ring ... it's Aussie netball coach Lisa Alexander on the line. She says you're to catch the next plane out of Auckland and return to Melbourne right away before it's too late - and she gets pregnant.

Corletto giggles nervously at the thought. When husband Daryl made the heartwrenching decision to leave the Melbourne Tigers - the only Australian National Basketball League club he had ever played for - and sign with the New Zealand Breakers, the reports were glowing.

The Breakers pride themselves on being a "family club" that really cares about its people and, so far, the Corlettos have definitely found that to be the case. But for the star netball defender, the reputation may be just a little too true for comfort.

"All the wives and owners have been so welcoming and supportive," she says. "But they've all warned me that anyone who comes here gets pregnant and has babies."

To be sure, the defending NBL champions do seem to shoot as accurately off the court as on it. Just this week, rebounding dynamo Mika Vukona and wife Vanessa added to the count with their second child - a baby son.

"Hopefully, that's not us for a few more years though," Julie (25) grins.

Maybe there's something in the water. The Corlettos - and dog Jack - certainly seem to have fallen in love with their seaside North Shore surroundings.

"Living anywhere near the beach in Melbourne is just too expensive," says Daryl (30). "But this is fantastic - we could certainly get used to it."

After being dropped from the Tigers roster to make way for NBA star Patrick Mills, he moved to Auckland five weeks ago, replacing Breakers guard Corey Webster who had returned a positive drug test for cannabis.

Initially, Julie helped him settle in before rejoining the Australian Diamonds for their recent series against England and New Zealand. She's now back on this side of the Tasman until Christmas, when she'll return home for pre-season training with the Melbourne Vixens.

It's a complicated lifestyle, but neither seem particularly bothered by the challenge. The couple met in a nightclub just as their sporting careers were really taking off and have supported each other through the rollercoaster ride ever since, marrying in 2009.

Daryl won an NBL title with the Tigers in 2006, and has already impressed with his scoring ability and tenacity off the Breakers bench this season. In six games, he's averaged 8.5 points a game, shooting an efficient 50 per cent from the field, 47 per cent from the three-point arc and 90 per cent from the free throw line. Julie has helped the Diamonds to victory at the last two world netball championships, defeating the Silver Ferns in both finals, and if anything, her achievements have tended to overshadow her hubby's.

When news of his signing broke in New Zealand, the first question on everyone's lips was would his wife also be transferring to a local team for the upcoming ANZ Championship?

Julie is contracted to the Vixens for the coming summer, but hasn't ruled out a move the following year, depending on where Daryl lands for the next NBL season.

"I get that all the time," he chuckles. "It's all good. I think the best thing about our relationship is we understand what the other is going through. If one of us has a bad game, the other knows why we're a bit quiet.

"That said, we're both different. Jules likes her music pumped up pretty loud on game days, but I'm the opposite - pretty quiet and laid back. If we lose, I just move on, while she tends to store it up inside."

His long-term future with the Breakers is uncertain. The club has a "Kiwis first" recruitment policy, but signed Corletto as a stopgap while they considered Webster's ongoing involvement.

For his part, Daryl couldn't be happier with his current environment: "I'm loving it," he beams. "This is what basketball is all about ... you've got to enjoy it. I love the way Andrej Lemanis coaches, and all the guys in the team, the owners, the fans and everyone involved have been great to us.

"I spent 10 years with Melbourne, but to be honest, there were times I really wasn't happy. The last five weeks have been the most enjoyable time of my career."

- Herald on Sunday

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