Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Mystics finally at full strength

Mystics Kayla Cullen (L) and Fevers Andrea Gilmore in action during the Mystics v Fever ANZ Champs netball match played at Trusts Arena in Auckland. Photo / Michael Bradley.
Mystics Kayla Cullen (L) and Fevers Andrea Gilmore in action during the Mystics v Fever ANZ Champs netball match played at Trusts Arena in Auckland. Photo / Michael Bradley.

The Northern Mystics will have their full complement of players available for the first time this season for their round four match-up against the Tactix.

The Auckland side, who are yet to win a game this season, have been managing niggly injuries in the camp over the early rounds.

English import Serena Guthrie has been on a restricted workload after picking up an Achilles injury in the preseason and has made only fleeting appearances this year.

The dynamic midcourter, who was last year named the ANZ Championship's best newcomer, was cleared to return to full duties this week and is a 60-minute option on Monday night.

Likewise Nadia Loveday, the only attacking midcourter on the Mystics roster, has also been cleared to play a full match, after making her first appearance of the season in last week's draw against the Pulse.

Loveday had been sidelined for five weeks with a back injury.

The pair's injury struggles have forced the Mystics to re-jig their midcourt in the lead-up to the season, with impressive youngster Fa'amu Ioane taking on the wing attack duties, while converted defender Kayla Cullen has spent a lot more time in the centre bib than initially expected.

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said having a full contingent of midcourters available takes a lot of pressure off.

"This is the first week we've had our full midcourt available to us for a full 60 minutes, and it's really exciting to have Serena and Nadia back," she said.

"It just gives us those extra options and makes things less of a juggling act."

The breakdown in the Mystics attack late in the games appears to the root cause of the Auckland side's poor start to the season. They dropped their opening two games to the Steel and Fever, before pulling off a last gasp draw in Wellington last week in a match they controlled through the early stages.

Fuller said her side have shown a concerning tendency to move away from their attacking gameplan late in the game as the pressure comes on.

"We need to be really direct going forward about what our structures are. Losses make you more determined to get things right, and that's what this group wants to do this week."

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