Northern Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick is plotting a dazzling end to her on-court career as retirement looms as retirement looms after the Netball World Cup.

Dawn is breaking on the veteran goalkeeper’s 14th and final ANZ Premiership season and she is fully aware the eyes of Dame Noeline Taurua will play a big role in whether she gets her swansong.

A 12-strong squad plus three reserves will be selected for the World Cup in South Africa, which begins in late July, and Fitzpatrick said her fortunes are largely out of her control. “They are going to have to put a puzzle together depending on how the squad is formed,” Fitzpatrick said.

“All you can do is put your hand up and show what your strengths are consistently week in and week out, and if that fits in the puzzle then that’s good and if not then you celebrate those who get to go over.”

While she would love to continue playing, Fitzpatrick said the time has come to prioritise her young family.

“I also know there are a lot of young ones coming through who are ready for the opportunity. I want to make sure I give them space to do that and flourish. Hopefully I can do what I can this year to prepare as many as possible before going and then I can support from the side.”

Fitzpatrick made key contributions to New Zealand’s Quad Series campaign, in which they finished runners-up to Australia in Cape Town.

However, the starting bibs at the defensive end were dominated by Phoenix Karaka, Kelly Jury and Jane Watson. “I understand that it’s very tight in terms of who is going to be the 12 that get there for the World Cup.

I’m happy as long as the best 12 get on that plane and represent us to bring home gold.”

The 30-year-old breaks with the tried and true sporting mantra of taking one game at a time, admitting the World Cup will play a role in how teams approach the ANZ Premiership.

The standard of the competition was criticised last year and Fitzpatrick said they are working hard to ensure the tournament is preparing players for the international arena.

“Having our own competition has actually been really helpful for us to remember our own style, being able to use our game smarts and our new Kiwi style. It’s important that we’re really strong in that and we take that over to South Africa.”

Despite debuting for the Mystics in 2010, Fitzpatrick acknowledges she’s not yet the finished product, and said she needed to prioritise herself on the court.

“I’m happy to talk and answer in real time and that’s fine. My focus is making sure I’m able to focus on me when I need to and not worry about what else is going on first, and then working the units.”

The goalkeeper is studying her masters in sociology and will be researching Pacific women in sport. Fitzpatrick wants a career helping those in need.

“Whether it’s working with the community or at risk [people] within the community like Pacific people or at risk youth. Young kids who don’t have an opportunity, whether it’s in sport or in life.”


By Nathan Limm

NZ Herald

17 Feb, 2023