Valuable pre-season court time will be up for grabs when the Trident Homes Tactix head to Queenstown for a double-header against the Steel.

Last year’s ANZ Premiership Grand Finalists meet their southern neighbours at the Queenstown Events Centre on Monday and Tuesday just four weeks out from their season opener against the same side on 13 March in Christchurch.

The league’s pre-season has been disrupted with the cancellation of the annual lead-in tournament at Ōtaki, due to New Zealand’s shift to the Covid-19 red light setting, and Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek said she hoped to get as much as possible from two outings against the Steel as she continued to bed in new combinations at both ends of the court.

“We’re not guaranteed other games so it’s really important to make the most of these opportunities,” she said.

“It’s about building up those combinations and seeing what works for us and what doesn’t. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can put out there in back-to-back games.”

It is not the first pre-season hit-out for the Tactix, having already met a Canterbury men’s invitational side at Cowles Stadium where Delaney-Hoshek said her side got the work-out they were looking for in a hard-fought match.

“To be able to see our game plan coming along and that ability to execute it was exciting,” she said.

“I don’t think we lost anything from any combination out there so we’re really seeing some players step up and bring that competition for court time. We’ve had really good shifts with the players, and we’ve seen that in the testing that we’ve done.”

Many eyes will be on a new look defensive end where newcomers Kelera Nawai-Caucau and Kate Lloyd join Karin Burger and Charlotte Elley, while Delaney-Hoshek has also been pleased to see the different dynamic in the shooting circle with the inclusion of Hannah Glen and Vika Koloto.

“It’s amazing how that defensive end has come along,” she said.

“Kate (Lloyd) has been out of this level for a while, and she’s been one of our biggest movers in terms of what she’s putting out on court. You can also see in terms of fitness area and it’s incredible how far she’s come – I think she’ll definitely be one to watch during the season.”

The shooting circle also welcomes some fresh faces with Glen and Koloto joining Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit at the scoring end.

“I’ve been really impressed – it’s a big step up for them because they’ve both come out of the National Netball League, but they’ve both stood up and offer us completely different things. They’re really pushing those older girls and saying, ‘we’re right here’ and pushing for that court time. That’s exactly what we want, it’s a great balance,” Delaney-Hoshek said.

Koloto is also training to slide across the wing joining Samon Nathan and Tactix captain Kimiora Poi in the midcourt.

“There’s plenty of options there for us which could be vital in a season that holds a few unknowns,” Delaney-Hoshek said.

The Tactix’ road-trip will also include some time in Temuka for a special ‘train with the Tactix’ session as well as a stop-over at Barkers of Geraldine before heading to Queenstown.