THE ANZ Premiership returns this week after an enforced hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The break has done wonders for some teams allowing them to iron out issues and give time for players to focus on recovery. However, some teams return to the competition a little different than how they entered the 2020 season. Draft Central takes a look back at the Round 1 action, 2019 season and what has changed over the last couple of months.
Coach: Helene Wilson
Captain: Phoenix Karaka
2019 finish: 6th
The Mystics kicked off their 2020 season in style with a narrow five goal win over 2019 grand finalists Northern Stars in Round 1 and while it has been a while between drinks expect them to bring that intensity and hunger again. The strong showing would have provided them with plenty of confidence heading into the season, knowing they can compete with a quality opponent and most importantly win. Last year was a relatively inconsistent season for the Mystics, unable to string together high quality performances, something they will be hoping to change for the remainder of 2020.
A lot has changed for the Northern Mystics since the opening round of action back in March. While Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes did not play in the first round there was hope that the experienced and talented shooter would take the court some time later in the season. However those hopes were quickly dashed with the shooter ruled out for the remainder of the season due to an ongoing patella injury. It will be a huge loss for the Mystics who were clearly building a strong attacking unit headlined by youngster Grace Nweke and the experience of Mes. But Mes’ absence makes the way for fellow up and comer Asher Grapes who was a training partner with the club and has since earned herself a permanent position with the Mystics.
With a change up to the attacking unit it may take some time for all the pieces to come together but they showed in Round 1 that they have the ability to do so. It may take some time for Grapes to fully adapt to the ANZ Premiership level of play but clearly has the scoring prowess and netball smarts to stand up to the challenge. Alongside Grapes and Nweke is another youngster in Saviour Tui meaning the defensive end and midcourt will have to work in overdrive to provide that sense of stability for the inexperienced shooting circle.
In her first season back at the club, tenacious goal keeper Sulu Fitzpatrick will be keen to assert herself on the competition and prove her worth at her new club. Coming off a premiership with the Pulse last season, Fitzpatrick had a clear impact in Round 1 but will have to maintain that defensive intent if the Mystics are to continue their winning ways and improve on last season. Her ability to find the ball and create turnovers is second to none, constantly on the prowl and using her physicality to get inside the head of her opposition.