Netball: Bailey a short-term fix, insist Mystics

By Dana Johannsen

Silver Fern midcourt veteran Temepara Bailey is a two-week replacement for the injury-plagued Mystics.
Silver Fern midcourt veteran Temepara Bailey is a two-week replacement for the injury-plagued Mystics.

The Mystics insist recalled veteran Temepara Bailey is only a short-term fix to the side's midcourt mayhem, leaving a serious question mark over the team's medium-term prospects.

Bailey was a shock inclusion in the Mystics line-up for last weekend's clash against the Tactix, with the Silver Fern midcourt legend answering a late SOS call for her injury-hit former side. She will suit up for them again in tomorrow night's round eight match-up against the Magic in Hamilton, with the ANZ Championship office approving Bailey as a two-week replacement player.

But after an impressive showing in her first top-level game in nearly two years, in which she helped the Mystics get over the line against a determined Tactix effort, some have wondered whether the Auckland side may find a way to keep Bailey around a little bit longer.

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said Bailey was brought into the side to cover for Erikana Pedersen, who was ruled out for two weeks with a knee injury.

Barring any further injury set-backs, Fuller said there are no plans for Bailey to stay on with the team beyond this weekend.

"At this stage she is with us for just these two weeks. She is very busy with the academy work she does, and also being a commentator and an ANZ ambassador so there's a lot of commitments she had to reshuffle to do these two weeks," she said.

The worrying thing for Fuller is Bailey was the fifth player the Mystics have used at wing attack this season behind Pedersen, Elisapeta Toeava, Nadia Loveday and Bailey Mes.

Despite having not played ANZ Championship netball since 2012, the former Ferns star has been the most successful in the position.

Bailey was a reassuring presence in the attack end, with shooters Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia looking much more comfortable with the veteran feeding them, while Laura Langman also appeared to relish playing alongside her former Ferns teammate.

Fuller said she is confident once Bailey departs she still has the talent in her midcourt to take the team to the finals.

"Temepara is a different style, she is a very commanding wing attack and she'll demand the ball," said Fuller.

"Within our team we've got people who play different styles in that wing attack position and it s has taken a little bit of time to get those combinations right, but we've got the ability to mix up out styles and I think that will serve us well."

There could be benefits to keeping Bailey around another week, as once she notches up three appearances for the Mystics she will be eligible to play for the team in the finals if they make the top four and run into further injury strife down the track.

One replacement player who may see out the season for the Mystics is Jess Tuki, who remains with the team despite being originally signed on a six-week contract.

Starting the season without the injured Anna Harrison (foot), Jodi Tod-Elliot (ankle) and Kayla Cullen (knee), the Mystics signed the former Magic utility as defensive cover.

Tuki has proved herself a more than useful addition to the Mystics defensive stocks, and with Cullen's recovery from a knee reconstruction taking longer than expected, the one-time Silver Fern is likely to remain until the end of the season.

- NZ Herald

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