Kiri Wills is no stranger to putting herself in to challenging situations and 2018 has started on much the same note.

The Far North-born woman has accepted the head coaching job with the Northern Stars for the second season of the ANZ Premiership provincial netball championship.

"[The plan is to] try to get to the top of my game," she said, of the looming campaign.

"If I do well, if our team does well this year. It's a massive challenge, I'm looking forward to it. Got good people around me to make it work too."


The South Auckland-based Stars are the newest franchise in the competition; the other five sides chasing the provincial title all had previous experience playing in the transtasman championship which saw New Zealand teams "in bed" with Australian ones before that competition was broken up in 2016.

"When we split, five teams did not make for a happy draw. Netball New Zealand in its wisdom felt the Northern Zone could support two teams not just one [as in the case of the Northern Mystics]."

Wills was clearly anticipating facing the challenges the campaign represented in typical head-on fashion.

"Quite exciting for me to represent the Far North as well as our province."

She takes over from Australian Julie Hoornweg who coached the Stars for their debut in New Zealand's inaugural elite league last year. Not that she had turned a blind eye towards the team's performances, being a staunch Northern girl.

"Last year was the first year [for the Stars]. Pretty tough road for them," she said, noting that for a side put together at the last minute, the Stars had their moments.

"They still upset a few teams - actually did well. Knocked over the Magic and the Mystics and had some good tussles with the Tactics and the Pulse."

The 2018 domestic campaign doesn't start until after the Commonwealth Games are "done and dusted" and when all the sides get their Silver Ferns back.

Officially, the Northern Stars start pre-season training this Friday, Wills said.

"We want to be training hard as a team from the get-go."

She said there won't be any mucking around or experimenting; the players were already well aware of their positions and what was expected of them.

She said everyone was particularly looking forward to the friendly derby match against the Sky City Mystics in Whangarei in early May. Looking further ahead, Wills plans to improve on the new kids on the block's second to bottom finish in 2017 and not by half.

"This year we aim to be at the top. Won't be anybody's punching bag. I think we have got a really good team, just in a really good position to take the title."

She also planned to continue her crusade of looking for and developing local talent.

"The thing for me, being a Far North girl who played netball on the South Rd courts, people tend to think being in the North is a disadvantage. It absolutely isn't. If you've got a bit of talent, it's the hard work behind it [which defines you].

"For the people of the North, they are not limited. There are opportunities out there. Get out and look for them," she said, while adding it was her responsibility to "push the scene really hard" and she plans to do that by making it up to the north as often as possible to see "who's up there".