Silvermoon Tactix are coming in 2018
04 May 2018
For a team renowned for losing, there is a sense of quiet optimism about the Mainland Tactix.
Coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek produced some positive signs at the end of last season after taking over from Australian Sue Hawkins, who resigned midway through the campaign following a dreadful start.
She has a stable squad at her disposal and recruited smartly, adding unwanted Silver Fern Jane Watson, last season's competition MVP, rising midcourt talent Kimiora Poi and veteran Australian shooter Kate Beveridge.
Having won just eight of 67 games over the past five seasons, it would be unrealistic to expect the Tactix to turn into a juggernaut overnight.
The Tactix, who begin against the Northern Stars in Palmerston North as part of the league's Super Sunday round this weekend, won't be pushovers under Delaney-Hoshek.
If they can be competitive each week and pick up victories consistently, the season will be a success given their dire history.
Captain Jess Maclennan (nee Moulds) has been with the side through their darkest days since moving south from the Mystics in 2014.
Maclennan has remained loyal and is desperate to see the perennial strugglers show what they are capable of.
"We've got people who really want to see the Tactix perform and do well and people who have been through the really tough times and have been through the losses.
"It's those losses you learn the most from. When you've been through those real lows, you don't want to feel like that again."
Despite their bleak results, Maclennan said there had never been issues with the Tactix culture. When sports teams aren't winning, it's easy for friction to develop between players and the coaching staff, but Maclennan said they had one of the best team environments she had come across.
"That's just something that has always been there. I think this team has been building for a long time and it's our job to show what this franchise is all about and how much hard work and how many good people are trying to make a difference to the Tactix.
"It's our time to step up and actually do the last few years' [teams] proud. It would be hugely rewarding to see this team do what I know they can do."
Maclennan is healthy and raring for court-time after missing the bulk of last season as she worked her way back from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), sustained in August 2016.
The Tactix boast arguably the best defensive depth in the competition with Watson, Silver Ferns' standout Temalisi Fakahokotau and Maclennan competing for two starting bibs.
Former circle defender Zoe Walker will move into wing defence, a position New Zealand has a paucity of talent in.
Very few elite netballers play the full 60 minutes in games these days with coaches regularly using their bench to provide impact.
Maclennan said it was vital to have different defensive options to combat the strengths of the opposition. She never considered going elsewhere, even with two Silver Ferns at the back end of the court.
"Marianne has the ability to play around with us and depending on what's going on the court she can change and counteract.
"I think she's pretty lucky to have four really solid defenders in there."
This article was originally published on Stuff.co.nz