Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Maria Tutaia re-signs with Northern Mystics

Maria Tutaia has re-signed with the Mystics. Photo / Getty
Maria Tutaia has re-signed with the Mystics. Photo / Getty

Maria Tutaia is staying put in New Zealand next year, with the star shooter turning down offers across the Tasman in favour of returning to the Northern Mystics.

The Mystics have nabbed the Silver Ferns top shooting line-up for next year's new ANZ elite league, luring Bailey Mes back from the Tactix to line up alongside Tutaia.

As the Herald revealed last week, Mes will take the place of long-serving Mystics shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti, who remains without a contract.

Tutaia, who has been rested from this month's Quad Series campaign as she recovers from a foot injury, had been targeted by rivals clubs from both sides of the Tasman. With the Australian netball bosses weighing up the possible introduction of a two-point shot in their new domestic league, the long-range specialist's stocks were particularly high across the ditch.

But Tutaia opted to remain with the Mystics, where she will have the opportunity to consolidate her Ferns' combination with Mes who is back in blue after two seasons with the Tactix.

The pair are joined by shooter Tera-Maria Amani and midcourter Elisapeta Toeava, who were both members of Netball Northern's Beko League team this year, as the latest signings for the Mystics.

Mystics chief executive Julie Paterson said today's signings ensured new coach Helene Wilson would have plenty of depth to call on.

"Maria has been an incredibly loyal member of our Mystics family and we are delighted to have her back for the new competition, while Bailey returns home in what will be an exciting combination between the two," she said.

"We have an exciting mix of experienced netballers and those ready to make their mark at the elite level like Elisapeta and Tera-Maria."

Mes, who played for the Mystics for five seasons from 2010, moved south in 2015 in search of more court time but had predominantly taken on the more unfamiliar role of goal attack. She will now have a chance to switch back to goal shoot where she has made her mark for the Silver Ferns.

The signing of Tutaia and Mes brings the number of Silver Ferns in the Mystics line-up to four, joining defenders Anna Harrison and Storm Purvis in the 2017 roster.

But it appears the Mystics may be set to lose star midcourter Kayla Cullen, who has been linked with the new Auckland franchise.

- NZ Herald

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