As netball in New Zealand celebrates 25 years of elite level leagues, answering an SOS call for the Trident Homes Tactix saw defender Jess Maclennan reflect on her contribution to the game including the history-making Harrison Hoist.

The former Tactix captain answered an emergency call from coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek to step into a Covid-impacted defensive end for their recent ANZ Premiership matches – the Tactix missing both goal keepers and the coach unable to call on a national netball league side also hit hard by the pandemic.

For Maclennan, now a mum-of-two and a registered dietician with her own business, last week’s efforts against the Stars was her first appearance on a Premiership court since 2018 and the 30 minutes of game time along with the chance to travel with the side to Auckland this week for a re-match certainly sparked a treasure trove of netball memories.

“I was involved for 11 years of those 25 (playing for the Mystics and Tactix). I am so grateful for all the friends I’ve made and all the experiences I had.”

One of those experiences was being involved in the Harrison Hoist, something the mother-of-two fondly recalls and the fuss around the move which was introduced to the former trans-Tasman league 10 years ago. Maclennan, then playing for the Mystics, lifted fellow defender Anna Harrison into the air to block a shot at goal.

“It was such a cool thing to be involved in,” Maclennan said.

The idea had been planted by Debbie Fuller and Harrison in a bid to combat an Australian shooter and the move came to fruition in 2012 in Melbourne after “hours and hours and hours of practice”.

“For us to actually pull that off in a game was pretty incredible. I don’t think we knew at the time that it would be a big deal and because we were in Australia, we didn’t see so much of the hype around it but once we got home there was a lot of buzz.

“Looking back, it’s definitely something special and this opportunity with the Tactix has made me look at those moments again.”

Maclennan, whose career was cut short with her third serious injury in 2018, admits since becoming a mum to now 2-year-old Marley and 1-year-old Blake she has been limited to watching just snippets of the Premiership in recent years, but being amongst it last week was impressed with the 2022 league despite the many disruptions from the pandemic.

Playing alongside Tactix debutants Julia Wynands (goal defence) and Lily Fletcher (wing defence) last week only strengthened her belief that netball was in a good place.

“The quality of netball is really high even though it has been quite a messy year with all the Covid challenges. I have just been amazed at how teams are just getting on with it on court even though it is not an easy environment,” she said.

Just how much more court time Maclennan will get with the Tactix is not known with the full squad back in action this week leading into Sunday’s game against the Pulse in Wellington. The defender had already planned a return to club netball in Christchurch this season, before her call-up to the Tactix, and that remains on her radar.

“I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be needed,” she said. “And honestly, I have no idea what happens after this. I am just going to enjoy every moment and then go into club and enjoy that.

“You know, being a mum and running a business – whatever happens this has been a nice little taster for me and a nice way I guess to come back from a fairly devastating end to my career.”

  • The Trident Homes Tactix meet the Pulse at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Sunday at 2.10pm, live on Sky Sport.