She may be a new kid on the block but there are no first day jitters for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic's new coach as she sets off on her first National Bank Cup netball campaign.
Nicole Dryden has no illusions about the importance of her task but she's not the nervous type.
"I'm not daunted by it all," she said.
"It's important you have belief in your players -- you can't fake that -- and I certainly have that belief."
The 2004 competition starts on Saturday, with Magic's first match away against Auckland's Diamonds on Sunday.
Dryden coached last year's Waikato team to the national provincial title.
"We have an idea of how our potential measures up at this stage. It's about how we see ourselves in the competition and that's something that's set internally -- each game is a point of reference to that.
"It's important we don't just peak and trough depending on how we did the week before. It's important to set a path for the whole competition, keep the big picture always in mind. We need to see ourselves as contenders for the whole competition rather than a particular game."
Magic's unpredictability factor is something that's been talked about in the build-up to the National Bank Cup.
"You need to be unpredictable but you also need to have enough of a structure within a game so that players know what they're doing and can take the next step with confidence -- it's about finding that balance -- providing an environment where players can create a game each time they get on court. That's the exciting part."
Dryden said Magic's pre-season games had been invaluable in helping players make the transition from training and preparation to competition mode.
The focus has been very much on Magic's own game rather than checking out the rest of the opposition.
"When you have an approach to coaching and playing as our unit does where it's mostly about our game and the quality of game we want, you really don't spend a lot of time wondering what games will be key," Dryden said.
"It's important for us to get on court this weekend and have a good game. This game is just as important as picking out who, on paper, might be coming in with a strong, experienced team. I've not focused on that much at all."
Dryden admits that could be due to her "newness" in the competition.
"I'm aware of who's who, but every year is a new year with a new team. I wouldn't want to put myself in a situation where we lessen one game over another and it works out to be detrimental.
"We need to go in with our top game each week."
Some are already touting Sting to take out the competition once more, with Canterbury Flames predicted to come second, Force third and Magic fourth.
Magic have come close to making the final a couple of times.
- DAILY POST (ROTORUA)