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Netball: Temepara steps out of retirement

Temepara Bailey. Photo / Getty Images
Temepara Bailey. Photo / Getty Images

Temepara Bailey returns to play for the Mystics in tonight's bottom-of-the-table ANZ championship netball match against the Tactix.

The franchise's former captain and Silver Fern veteran will step out of retirement with the squad suffering injury problems in the mid-court.

The 38-year-old, who in 89 tests won both Commonwealth and world championship titles, farewelled netball at the end of the 2012 season. She has since presented and commentated for Sky Television.

Bailey is already a mentor to the team and occasionally trains with them.

In 2013 the Mystics finished last in Bailey's absence, having been exposed in the mid-court. The franchise were subsequently accused of poor succession planning.

Coach Debbie Fuller says she approached Bailey after Erikana Pedersen was ruled out of tonight's game with a knee injury. Fellow wing attacks Nadia Loveday and Eisapeta Toeava are also managing niggles and Bailey Mes, who is confined to limited court-time after returning from knee surgery, is already enlisted as shooting back-up.

Fuller looked at younger players to strengthen the mid-court, but injury and lack of top-level experience ruled them out.

"We are in the middle of the season and there's no opportunity to develop players," Fuller said.

"My job as coach is to field the most competitive team available."

Fuller claims Bailey is in great physical condition and knows how to perform under intense pressure.

Her future role will be a "week-by-week decision" but Fuller knows Bailey's speed, timing and vision have always been revered. Her services to the sport were acknowledged as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012.

Bailey has always said she wanted to stick with the game in some capacity, although a return to top-level netball was not considered until Fuller called. "It might only be for one or two weeks, but I want to ensure I add value," she said.

The Mystics sit ninth on the table with four points. The Tactix are last with two points.

- Herald on Sunday

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