Trident Homes Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek is keen to talk netball after a pre-season dominated by Covid, and says her team is ready to put their best foot forward when they host the Steel in the opening round of the ANZ Premiership on Sunday – not that she’s entirely certain just which feet those will be.
In unprecedented netball times, the six teams preparing for their 2022 campaigns have all been affected by the Covid pandemic including the Tactix who have not escaped the challenging build-up.
Player availability, due to Covid illness, at training sessions and for game day is proving a new hurdle for the Premiership sides and Delaney-Hoshek said while it would add another element to their year, they were just looking forward to getting out on court now.
“You always know there’s going to be a wee twist in the turn but it’s going to be like that all season for everybody, so we just have to get on with it,” she said.
“Everyone’s as ready as they can be, and we know our cultural vision He Toa Takitini – it takes everyone to win – is incredibly apt during these times. We’ve just got to be agile enough to roll with the punches in lots of different ways.”
The coach of the two-time Grand Finalists said she was excited with the mix they had in their squad and about what lay ahead having seen the Tactix players put in the hard yards during the off season.
They will be missing defender Jane Watson, who announced her pregnancy late last year, but have welcomed Kelera Nawai-Caucau, Kate Lloyd, Hannah Glen, and Vika Koloto into the side while training partners Parris Petera and Lily Fletcher are also likely to play a part during the season.
There are also the seasoned combinations through the midcourt and up front with Charlotte Elley, Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan returning to the middle, and Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird ready to play their third Premiership together in the shooting circle.
Despite the pre-season limitations, the Tactix have managed hit-outs against the Pulse, Steel and Mystics while also taking on a Canterbury Men’s Invitation side and Delaney-Hoshek said she was excited about the “huge shifts” they had made during this time.
“The oldies, the youngies – everyone went away and did their work and came in better than before and it’s just carried on,” she said. “In terms of where they are now to when they came in is absolute worlds apart and I’m proud of what everyone’s put in,” she said.
“Obviously without Jane, there is a gap, but everyone’s pulled together to ensure that we put our best foot forward – whoever’s foot that might be.”
Another timely addition to the Tactix was the inclusion of mental skills coach Jess Hansen to the team staff in an area that “has been lacking”.
“Jess has been doing a great job. It’s an important part of the game and it’s been a bit of a gap for us in the last couple of years. Obviously, there are other distractions this year through Covid, but we’re lucky we can also focus on the top two inches and have that mental skills person.
“Most of our staff roles have been filled this year and it allows me to sit over the top and step back a little bit more and take that big picture vision,” she said. “I’m really excited about where we’re heading.”
Delaney-Hoshek said the only disappointment heading into the early rounds was not being able to play in front of the Tactix’ fervent home crowd due to Covid restrictions.
“We had such good crowds last year and the only bummer is that they’re not going to be there. We’ve got so many people behind us, and I know they’re backing us, so we’ll feel that support still.”
- The Trident Homes Tactix meet the Steel at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch on Sunday at 4.10pm, live on Sky Sport.