The SKYCITY Mystics have finalised their squad for 2016 by announcing two players new to the ANZ Championship.

Megan Craig, a Tall Ferns basketball international, has signed as a shooter, while Fa’amu Ioane has been added to the mid-court.

The SKYCITY Mystics coach Debbie Fuller looked at the player market from many angles when recruiting and Craig, especially, is an interesting addition.

The 22-year-old, from the Otaika Valley outside of Whangarei, played netball as a Goal Shoot or Goal Keep throughout Kamo High School, before taking up a basketball scholarship at Albany State University in New York. She returned to New Zealand this year, after four years studying business and communications. She has represented the Tall Ferns since 2013, where her height (6ft 8in or 2.03m) and wing span (6ft 11in) have been major assets.

“Megan has been signed as a shooter,” says Fuller. “Coming into such a fierce competition, from a different code, of course there is an element of risk involved. But both Megan and the SKYCITY Mystics are committed to giving it everything. There are big challenges there for everyone, including us coaches to get the process right. But I admire Megan’s willingness to give it a go.”

Fuller sees that Craig’s initial role will very much be to learn from Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu, both of whom have played more than 100 ANZ Championship games as shooters.

Craig’s move into netball won’t come as a blow to her national basketball coaches, as they will continue to work with her. Fuller has spent time with Kennedy Kereama and Aik Ho from the Tall Ferns, as Craig will manage playing both domestic netball and international basketball.

“I’m very happy, and very lucky, that Debbie and Kennedy have worked together to make this happen,” said Craig, who is a second-cousin of Tall Blacks youngster Tai Wynyard. “And while I haven’t been in New Zealand a lot for the last few years, mum is a huge Mystics fan and has kept me in the loop with the team.”

Ioane (19), who is a former national schools’ representative from Avondale College, impressed during off-season trials, with her work ethic and ability to respond under pressure highlighted by her coaches.

To ensure Craig and Ioane put their best foot forward in 2016, they’ll be part of a new ‘Transition to ANZ’ programme that Fuller and Noeline Taurua will run from October to December. There they’ll be joined by fellow SKYCITY Mystics newcomers Holly Fowler (18) and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (18), plus players in the Mystics’ development squad.

“New players sometimes underestimate how tough it is to compete in the ANZ Championship,” says Fuller. “This programme will fully prepare them – especially with regards to game education and quality daily training habits – for the intensity shift that will be asked of them in January.”

The SKYCITY Mystics squad for 2016 contains seven current or former international netballers, including three – Tutaia, Kayla Cullen and Serena Guthrie – who played in the Netball World Cup.

2016 SKYCITY Mystics squad:

· Megan Craig
· Kayla Cullen
· Temalisi Fakahokotau
· Holly Fowler
· Serena Guthrie (import player)
· Anna Harrison
· Fa’amu Ioane
· Cathrine Latu
· Nadia Loveday
· Michaela Sokolich-Beatson
· Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick
· Maria Tutaia