Kia Magic have retained the services of shooter Ellen Halpenny for a further two years while also signing new midcourt recruit Courtney Tairia for the 2014 ANZ Championship netball season.
Excited by her progress this year after moving north from the Tactix, Halpenny was keen to extend her stay with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty team while new Silver Fern Tairia has opted for a change after two years with Southern Steel.
``I really enjoyed my first season with the Magic and I’m looking forward to the next season,’’ Halpenny said.
``A lot’s changed. When change happens, it can either be a good thing or a bad thing and my change in coming up to the Magic for the last season was a good change, so I’m hoping that this will be a carry on from that.’’
Halpenny, 23, made significant strides in her game this year and is excited about the prospect of working with new coaches, Australian Julie Fitzgerald and former Silver Ferns shooter Margaret Forsyth.
``From a shooting perspective, I’m really looking forward to working with Marg and having the opportunity to work with an Australian coach was also a strong pulling point,’’ she said.
Halpenny is also relishing the prospect of teaming up with England shooting import Jo Harten again, the pair spending the 2012 season together at the Tactix.
``It’s great to see Ellen returing to Magic for 2014 after really taking a step up this year,’’ Fitzgerald said.
``Given the opportunity of regular court time in 2013, Ellen showed she is capable of competing well at this level and I believe can continue to improve considerably on her game.
``There is potential for her to form a strong combination with our other shooters and she is able to switch from goal attack to goal shooter when required. With the confidence of a strong season behind her, Ellen is primed to work hard for even better things in 2014.’’
Born in Australia to New Zealand parents, Tairia, 25, came through the Australian system and three season with the Sydney Swifts (2009-11) before switching her allegiance and opting to ply her trade on this side of the Tasman.
The move paid off handsomely for the former Australian under-21 representative after her recent naming in the Silver Ferns team for the upcoming five-test Constellation Cup series against Australia followed by a three-test series against Malawi.
Thrilled to make the cut for the Silver Ferns, the talented midcourter, who offers plenty of variety and the added bonus of height in the engine room, is looking forward to her move north.
``Julie Fitzgerald is a great coach who I have worked with before and also there’s experienced players like Casey (Kopua) and Leana (de Bruin) as well as some good young ones coming through,’’ Tairia said.
``A major drawcard for me was being able to work with those experienced players as well as some younger players coming through and helping with their development.’’
Former Swifts mentor, Fitzgerald is looking forward to reuniting with Tairia at Magic, believing she is on the verge of developing into one of the game’s top midcourters.
``I have always admired Courtney’s ability to feed the shooters, a skill often overlooked when selecting centre court players in today’s game,’’ she said.
``Courtney is a player who always seems to have time and space and I know she also has a strong defensive game when playing in the centre position.
``Her impact can easily be overlooked because of her calm persona but the shooters she is working with will always appreciate her vision and passing skills. I’m looking forward to her continued development at Magic.’’
Magic players confirmed for 2014:
Ellen Halpenny, Courtney Tairia, Casey Kopua, Leana de Bruin, Jo Harten, Brooke Leaver, Samantha Sinclair.