27 Mar 2019

Netball: Accountability key to Mystics fightback

1:50 pm on 27 March 2019

The Northern Mystics haven't won a Premiership match since July last year and defender Erena Mikaere says accountability is key to making headway.

Northern Mystics defender Erena Mikaere

Northern Mystics defender Erena Mikaere Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019 www.photosport.nz

It's a big ask to go from back-to-back championship titles to five straight losses in a new competition - but it's Northern Mystics defender Erena Mikaere's new reality.

With Australia's Sunshine Coast Lightning, led by Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua, Mikaere experienced triumph at the highest level - double championship titles in arguably the toughest netball competition beside the world's most esteemed players.

While success rang loud for the 31-year-old, her call home to reunite with her daughter Bileigh in Rotorua and to vie for a Silver Ferns spot was even stronger.

But as one of the four new faces to join the Auckland franchise, Mikaere is now working on helping a team to avoid the opposite end of that spectrum.

The Mystics are yet to notch a win after five games this season with the worst attacking stats in the league, something Mikaere believes her side can overcome with time.

"No athlete or coach ever go out there to lose and we can see things are building although we aren't getting the results we're after," says Mikaere

"This competition is structured differently, the type of netball is different, everything comes into play - the resources for one - all the little things in comparison to the Aussie league."

"But it's accountability on our jobs and what we do to add to the team performance at this stage."

In her short time with the Mystics, Mikaere has adopted a leadership role issuing players with hard truths and can visibly be seen having words with the group after matches while captain Phoenix Karaka tends to media obligations.

This week coaching staff have put their foot down by way of confronting conversations with players about connections and shooting averages barely hitting 70 percent.

Shooting seems to plague the Mystics including veteran Bailey Mes who shot under 60 percent in Sunday's match against the Tactix. Jamie Hume sunk three of her eight attempts, while Australian import shooter Kristina Brice hasn't played since round three.

Northern Mystics shooter Grace Nweke

Northern Mystics shooter Grace Nweke Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz Photosport Ltd 2019

17-year-old Avondale College student Grace Nweke however, a saving 'grace' in the time she's been allowed on court though she is yet to start a match.

It's a problem that existed long before Mikaere arrived. The Mystics haven't felt victory since their 62-44 win over Magic on July 25th last year, and Mikaere says the problem needs to be dealt with head on.

"You can't fluff around with this stuff in sport, I'm very truthful and my mum says you can read what I'm thinking by the look on my face," says Mikaere

"It is needed at this level because you need to be accountable for your own actions."

"We are acknowledging what we haven't done which is put out a performance that we are proud of."

It's not all doom and gloom though, the Mystics defensive end is emerging as an early force in the Premiership. Captain Karaka is one of the highest intercept and rebound makers with Mikaere not far behind her.

It's this success Mikaere wants to see delivered throughout the court for a full sixty minutes.

"I really commend Micky (Michaela Sokolich-Beatson) and Phoenix because it's a group effort and you have to be connected but now we are talking about how we filter that to the rest of our team," says Mikaere

"The common thread through all of these games is they are games we can take if we have a 60-minute performance."

"It's now about can we walk the talk and basically show our heart and respect for the game, eachother, and just get out there and play.