STARRY MAGIC READY TO SHINE
Once again the side is anchored at either end by two of the worldís best players: Irene van Dyk, who headed the 2008 ANZ Championship shooting statistics with 92.8% despite her shock switch to goal attack towards the end of the 2008 competition, and defender Casey Williams, winner of the Holden Captiva MVP award.†
The top-class defensive trio of Williams, Joline Henry and Jodi Tod is further stiffened by the addition of 33-cap Silver Fern Leana de Bruin, a top ten performer on the 2008 statistics for deflections, rebounds and intercepts. In the mid-court the gifted, gritty Laura Langman is joined by Frances Solia whose toughness and experience were major assets for Central Pulse last year.
The Silver Ferns representation is completed by silky shooter Maria Tutaia, who seemed more assured in the goal attack position by the end of the international season against England and Australia. Her pairing with van Dyk produced 847 goals (86.6%) from 978 attempts for Magic in 2008. †
The teamís fresh faces are twenty-one year-old shooter Jess Tuki, from Southern Steel and Otago, and 19-year-old Elias Shadrock, captain of last yearís successful New Zealand Secondary Schools team. ††
Capable of the leagueís best play in every third of the court, Magicís challenge in 2009 is to sustain that quality through four quarters. If they can do that, their fans will have an exhilarating ride to another Grand Final.
Magic played 16 matches in 2008, more than any other team, because they contested all three stages of the Finals Series. They won eleven, beaten by Swifts (three times), Vixens and Steel, and hold the Championship record for the highest score (69 goals v Tactix, Round 14). Magicís closest win was their two-goal defeat of Thunderbirds in the Preliminary Final.
The much anticipated 2009 ANZ Championship season kicks off on Saturday 4 April when Southern Steel meets Central Pulse in New Zealand, and Melbourne Vixens take on West Coast Fever in Australia.
NEW ZEALAND FANS: experience the action live on SKY Sport One from 2pm on Saturday 4 April 2009.
AUSTRALIAN FANS: watch the ANZ Championship match of the round on Channel 10 from 3pm - 5pm every Sunday,†beginning on Sunday 5 April, and catch the other four matches on ONE, Channel 10`s new 24-hour sports channel.
Pictured: The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic line-up for the 2008 ANZ Championship Preliminary Final. PHOTO: Michael Bradley.