It's faster and a little bit more physical, and Tayla Blanchard loves it.

The Te Puke High School teacher's passion for netball shone through so much at her first seven-a-side mixed netball tournament that she was selected for national honours.

Tayla was robbed of a chance for a Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic squad place through injury earlier in her career, but says her selection for the side to compete in a trans Tasman series in October is a reward for her efforts.

"This is an amazing opportunity. I'm absolutely blown away. It feels like the hard work I've put in is now paying off," she says.


Tayla has played women's netball at national provincial level and has played a mixed indoor six-a-side netball for six years, but the mixed seven-a-side game was new to her.

The national tournament was held at Easter and she was invited by coach Tania Anderson to be part of the Waikato Tainui Bay of Plenty team.

"I'd never actually played mixed seven-a-side until the tournament," says Tayla.

"[Tania] flicked me a message saying "hey, we'd love you to be part of the seven-a-side team going up to Auckland for nationals", and I said "OK, I'll give it a go", because I've probably gone as far as I can go with women's seven-a-side netball."

She went to the training and the tournament and ended up really enjoying it.

Teams have three men and four women on court.

"I enjoy it a lot more because it's so much faster, a little bit more physical and I like the speed of the game — it just totally changes the dynamics.

"You can push your passes more, you can turn and let go easier — it's hard to explain, but the physicality of it is so different to just women's netball."

In 2013 Tayla was selected for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty under 23 squad, but after one season, an anterior cruciate ligament injury put her out of the game for the best part of 12 months.

She spent some time in Ireland before returning and taking up club netball again.

"I've enjoyed playing NPC for women — it's hard work, it's hard physically and mentally. I'm not saying that mixed isn't, but I just feel I'm enjoying it a little bit more because it's something different and you tend to work harder when you enjoy something.

"It's opened me up to a whole new network of people too."

Tayla's plays the shooting positions, although she has also started playing more wing attack.

"It's pretty much the same, although I'm feeding the circle more. It's different when you've got men in the circle — it changes the way you have to feed into it and the way you work your way into the circle," she says.

The Waikato Tainui-Bay of Plenty team finished third at the national tournament.

The trans Tasman series takes place in Adelaide in October.