With less than three weeks to go until the MG Mystics open their 2024 ANZ Premiership campaign, the team is wrapping up a strong preseason that has seen them travel across the motu to test their mettle.

The defending champions have faced off against top quality sides from both here and across the ditch, starting with a cross-city clash versus the Northern Stars at home on February 17. It was the first hit-out since the Silver Ferns players had re-joined the squad after the Vitality Nations Cup in England and proved to be a great test against last year’s finalists.

Next up was the highly-anticipated sold-out match versus the Melbourne Vixens on February 24 at Auckland Netball Centre.

It was just the second time the two teams had met since the dissolution of the ANZ Championship, otherwise known as the Trans-Tasman Netball League, and provided the perfect opportunity to challenge the Mystics with a different style of netball and an unfamiliar opponent. After four closely fought quarters, just six points separated the two teams at the final whistle with the Melbourne Vixens clinching the win 68 – 62.

MG Mystics head coach Tia Winikerei says, “We enjoy training and playing under pressure and the preseason has given us ample time to deepen and evolve the way we want to play.

“Game evolution means we must train and play with chaos, while we consolidate different, new and exciting ways to play. Our training quality is high and we constantly test each other’s skill sets, the intensity we bring and our ability to stay in it during moments of pressure. This is something we’ll keep extending as we seek ways to sharpen the edge within our performance.”

After a couple of weeks of intense training both on the court and in the gym, the Mystics hit the road down to Tauranga where they met the Avis Magic on March 7. The match was a preview to the ANZ Premiership season opener which will see the two teams face off on Saturday 13 April at GLOBOX Arena in Hamilton.

Next on the preseason calendar was a trip down south to take part in the inaugural Southern Showdown tournament in Dunedin from March 22 to 24. After touching down on Friday 22 March, the Mystics hit the court first versus the Te Wānanga o Ruakawa Pulse. After trailing the Pulse for the first two quarters, the Mystics pulled away in the second half, signing off their first match of the tournament with a 57 – 48 win.

Hosts the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel were next up on Saturday 23 March in front of a passionate home crowd at the Edgar Centre. Once again the Mystics found themselves down by two after the first stanza, but found their rhythm before half-time, managing to stretch their lead out to 16 by full-time winning 56 – 40.

“The preseason has been exciting.  We have had a pragmatic balance of training and pre-season matches to test our game style and skill sets under pressure. I am humbled and grateful for the leadership of our captains Miccy and Phee, who are supported by everyone. This is a new year and we continue to build a cohesive squad capable of playing in any given moment. I believe this is one of the Mystics’ greatest strengths,” Winikerei says.

After a well-deserved break over Easter, the Mystics will regroup for their two remaining preseason matches versus the Avis Magic on home turf on Tuesday 2 April and the Northern Stars on Wednesday 10 April.

It will be the last opportunity for the team to put the finishing touches on preparations before they embark on a 15-round season wrapping with the finals series at the end of July.