SKYCITY Mystics name strong defensive quartet for 2018
The SKYCITY Mystics have named an experienced defensive quartet for their 2018 campaign as they look to build on the success of the inaugural ANZ Premiership.
This year’s co-captain Anna Harrison will be back in the Mystics uniform alongside fellow defenders Storm Purvis and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, while Phoenix Karaka returns home to Auckland after moving on from the Central Pulse. Mid-courter Samon Nathan has also re-signed with the Mystics after enjoying her first season in the blue strip where she impressed at centre to earn a regular start in the position.
Harrison, Purvis and Sokolich-Beatson formed one of the toughest walls to penetrate during the ANZ Premiership where the Mystics reached the Elimination Final, while Karaka was back to the form she showed when making her international debut for the Silver Ferns in 2014.
Netball Northern Board chair Dianne McAteer said adding Karaka into the defensive end – which included a mix of experience and one of the country’s rising stars – would add another dimension to their play as they aim to maintain the momentum built this season.
“We had a team this year which showed they had the talent to be true contenders and retaining those combinations will be a great start for the new season,” she said.
“Anna brings such a wealth of experience and hunger for success to the court while Storm made an impact for the Mystics during the second half of the season and at the Super Club competition in Nelson,” McAteer said. “Michaela is certainly part of New Zealand’s rising talent and a player to watch, while Phoenix was back to her best this year and brings yet another dynamic element to an impressive line-up.”
Harrison, who has retired from the international game, led the league for intercepts and was second on the ladder for the number of deflections. She slotted in seamlessly to either role in the circle and also picked up plenty of ball on the wing.
Purvis, who is still just 24-years-old, is a former Silver Fern and alongside Sokolich-Beatson has earned a Silver Fern trial this year. She has overcome niggling injuries to form solid partnerships with both Sokolich-Beatson and Harrison in the defensive circle this season.
Sokolich-Beatson recently captained the New Zealand under-21 team to victory at the World Youth Cup in Botswana and became an integral member of the Mystics defensive end when she got more court time during the ANZ Premiership. The 21-year-old shows plenty of speed and reads the game well to come through for some game-changing intercepts when the pressure goes on.
Karaka’s aerial game was back to its best during the 2017 ANZ Premiership when she went all the way to the Grand Final with the Pulse. But the Auckland-born defender heads home to join an impressive defence line.
The SKYCITY Mystics have already signed shooters Maria Tutaia, Bailey Mes and Tera-Maria Amani as well as mid-courter Elisapeta Toeava and new-comer Jamie Hume for next year’s league.