You don’t rely on fan votes when it comes to selecting a squad for the ANZ Championship. But many SKYCITY Mystics fans will be pleased to know that England international Serena Guthrie will be back in Auckland for a second season in 2016.

Guthrie (25) – whose accolades in her debut campaign included making the ANZ Championship All-Star team and being named ‘Best New Talent’ in the league – became a firm fan favourite at The Trusts Arena this year.

Also confirming their part today in the 2016 SKYCITY Mystics campaign are home-grown talents Temalisi Fakahokotau, Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick and Nadia Loveday.

“We’ve signed the foundation of both our mid-court and our defence,” says the SKYCITY Mystics CEO Julie Paterson.

“Serena is an X-factor player who lifts those around her. She was easily the best intercepting mid-courter in the league this year and she fitted into the environment here beautifully”.

Joining her in the mid-court is Nadia Loveday (21), who has been groomed for a bigger role in the ANZ Championship for a few years now. She got plenty of court-time for the SKYCITY Mystics in 2015, has played for the New Zealand u21s and is also part of the National Development Squad.

At the defensive end, Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick (23) has been super-impressive in her return to netball after time away to have twins. She was a regular starter for the SKYCITY Mystics this year and was recently named the top defender at the national u23 tournament, which her Northern Zone team won. She has also been selected in the NZA team for games before the World Cup.

Also part of that NZA team is Temalisi Fakahokotau (20). She was expected to challenge for a place in the Silver Ferns side, but an incident between her hand and a broken blender put paid to that. Her recovery is going well, though, and there’s no reason she won’t be back to her explosive best shortly. Fakahokotau was fourth in the league this season for deflections, despite sharing the defensive load in her team.

The SKYCITY Mystics finished the 2015 regular season on top of the NZ Conference. But they then lost the NZ Conference Final to the WBOP Magic, before going down heavily to the Queensland Firebirds in the semi-finals.

“The finish to 2015 was not what we wanted,” says the SKYCITY Mystics coach Debbie Fuller. “It exposed our inability to play through a whole season and to play tough, hard netball for a full 60minutes”.

“This warrants the need to be clear about what the difference is between us and the team we lost to by 16 goals in the semi. It is important to recruit to find a competitive advantage in areas of our programme that other teams have an advantage over us. We need to ensure the chemistry and capability in the team is what we need to give us the best possible chance to win games”.

All signings in the ANZ Championship need to be completed by August 28, with further SKYCITY Mystics announcements to be made in due course.