22 Feb 2019

Netball: Magic's pursuit to recapture its former glory

10:16 am on 22 February 2019

The new Waikato Bay of Plenty netball coach Amigene Metcalfe is determined to restore the club to its former glory this domestic season.

Magic captain Casey Kopua

Magic captain Casey Kopua Photo: Photosport Ltd 2017 www.photosport.nz

There was a time when the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic ruled the land of domestic netball.

A dominant force, the Magic over the years has groomed veteran players such as Anna Stanley, Laura Langman, Irene Van Dyk, Maria Folau, Leana De Bruin, Grace Kara, Casey Kopua - just to name a few.

After eight finals appearances in the trans-Tasman competition including two grand finals and a championship title, the Magic have struggled to transfer that success under the New Zealand domestic structure.

Former Silver Fern and Magic foundation player Amigene Metcalf will now coach the side that she has seen rise and fall over the years and is determined to steer the Magic back to its former glory.

"We definitely want to get back to being that successful franchise on the court and there are lots of good things happening in the environment.

"we want to get back to our winning ways and sometimes that means looking at what has worked historically in terms of what we need to create and people we need to have involved - that's been a big focus for all of us."

The Magic were the only team to win a trans-Tasman title in the former championship format under then coach Noeline Taurua, her departure in 2016 resulting in an obvious decline in the years that followed.

History shows the side aren't unfamiliar with domestic success though. In the former National Bank Cup format, the Magic won both 2005 and 2006 titles, something Metcalfe remembers fondly.

Amigene Metcalfe (middle left) with the Magic in the 2006 National Bank Cup victory

Amigene Metcalfe (middle left) with the Magic in the 2006 National Bank Cup victory Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT 2006 www.photosport.co.nz

Last season disaster struck once Silver Ferns defending duo Kelly Jury and captain Casey Kopua were both bench ridden with injuries, their side unable to notch a win once Kopua was ruled out.

In a netball world cup year, you would expect teams to be increasing on-court intensity working towards the goal of a possible selection though this couldn't be further from the mind of Metcalfe, despite captain Kopua announcing her final year in all forms of the game.

Graduating from the assistant coach role, Metcalfe has this year replaced South African import Lenize Potgieter (who has left for the Southern Steel) with Adelaide Thunderbirds shooter Abigail Latu-Meafou as well as building new processes both on and off the court.

"We got a tip from Leana de Bruin who played with her (Latu-Meafou) at the Adelaide Thunderbirds last year... she hasn't had massive opportunities in Australia and she was born here so she brings a Kiwi flavour with an Aussie edge," says Metcalfe

"There is added pressure on players trying to be selected to go to the World champs... if they get too focussed on July then that's not great for their franchise team.

"It's been a lot of planning and now that we are into it I'm enjoying the whole process."