The signings of defenders Katherine Coffin and Bessie Manu have completed Kia Magic’s playing roster for the 2014 ANZ Championship netball season.
Taken by surpirse with her inclusion, Coffin, 23, the niece of former Silver Fern Jenny-May Coffin, will have an extra spring in her step when lining up for Hamilton City at the national championships starting in Dunedin tomorrow. Capable of playing both wing and goal defence, the 1.83m Coffin is one of a number of younger players who enhanced their prospects with Magic on the back of strong performances at the recent national under-23 championships.
``I first saw her play at the under-23 nationals and was quite impressed with what I saw there and feel she has quite a lot of talent’’ Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald said.
Able to play all three defensive positions, Manu, 27, has previously plied her trade with the Tactix and Central Pulse. Fitzgerald has watched the dogged and athletic defender over a number of years and likes what she has seen.
``I just think she can be quite dynamic and make a really good impact player,’’ Fitzgerald said. ``She has a great understanding of the game and really good anticipation skills.’’
The coach is happy the protracted negotiation phase with players is over and that she can now set her sights on the planning and preparation for the upcoming season.
``You never get exactly everybody that you would like but I’m very, very happy with what I’ve got,’’ Fitzgerald said.
With the squad finalised, all players are now on personal strength and conditioning programmes and will come together for the first time in the first week of January.
With the Silver Ferns touring England in January, Magic will be without Casey Kopua, Leana de Bruin and Courtney Tairi as well as England import Jo Harten for much of that month.
``I think we’ve got a good balance of experience and some really talented youth coming through,’’ Fitzgerald said.
``It may take them a little time to come together, particularly with the Ferns being away for such a period in January but we will just want to see that we’re getting better every week and are more competitive every week.’’
Fitzgerald will relocate from Australia to New Zealand for her two-year stint with Magic immediately after Christmas.
2014 Magic squad:
Katherine Coffin, Leana de Bruin, Ellen Halpenny, Jo Harten, Casey Kopua, Brooke Leaver, Bessie Manu, Malia Paseka, Jamie-Lee Price, Grace Rasmussen, Courtney Tairi, Jo Trip, Samantha Sinclair.