Netball’s annual ANZ Premiership pre-season tournament in Ōtaki offers valuable lessons on and off court and marks a special weekend for The Good Oil Tactix’ Kimiora Poi.
The midcourter and her Tactix team-mates head to Ōtaki, north of Wellington, for the fifth edition of the ANZ Premiership pre-season tournament hosted by Te Wānanga o Raukawa from March 26-28.
“It’s not all about the netball,” Poi said of the three-day tournament. “It’s pretty cool to have all of the teams come together at the Te Wānanga o Raukawa campus and experience staying on the marae.
“We’re welcomed on with a pōwhiri and we get to experience the culture. It is a special tournament and really enjoyable.”
During the season there is little time to catch up with former team-mates and friends from opposing sides post-match, so Poi relishes the opportunity in Ōtaki to reconnect with netballers from around the country.
“Obviously it’s also a good chance to have a look at all the teams and play a few teams we haven’t met yet,” she said. “But I think it’s more than just about getting out on court when you head to Ōtaki which is why we look forward to it as a team.”
The Tactix have already played the Southern Steel and Central Pulse in what has been a busy pre-season for Poi who joined her team-mates in January for the build-up to the 2021 ANZ Premiership.
She also had nine days in camp with the Silver Ferns this month, to compete against Australia in the Constellation Cup in Christchurch where she admits there were massive learnings to take on board.
Poi missed the cut for the opening two matches which was an early test for the seven-capped Silver Fern.
“It was a full-on week and it probably was a little bit hard to miss out (on a Test spot) early in the week,” she said. “But management were clear that they wanted to give everyone an opportunity and I think that was a big lesson for me – to stay ready because anything can happen and that’s something I took away from that series.”
The midcourt livewire made an impact from the bench when injected into the third Test, earning a starting spot for the fourth Test which the Silver Ferns won to claim the Constellation Cup for the first time in nine years.
There was little time to reflect on those performances as Poi was back in red-and-black colours for two pre-season games against the Steel in Timaru the next week, followed by a game against the Pulse in Christchurch last week.
“It’s been pretty busy and the body was feeling it a bit, but I’ve had some down time so am feeling refreshed and ready to go,” she said. “I definitely think that excitement is starting to build towards the start of the ANZ Premiership.”
The Good Oil Tactix meets the Pulse on day one in Ōtaki before taking on the Northern Mystics on Saturday and the Northern Stars on Sunday.
All games will be LIVE on Sky Sport 3, and live streamed through Stuff.co.nz and Te Wānanga o Raukawa’s Facebook page.