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Beko Netball League contenders target Central Manawa

Knocking Central Manawa off its Beko Netball League perch will be high on the agenda of the chasing pack as the season opener looms large.

The three-time defending champions are the most successful team in the league which was first unveiled in 2016 in a bid to strengthen the pathways of elite Netball in New Zealand.

Just who stands in their way from a fourth-straight title remains to be seen but there is a generous sprinkling of experience and new talent emerging from the 2020 Beko Netball League to suggest that Central Manawa will remain wary of the challengers.

They themselves have changes to the squad which beat Waikato-BOP in last year’s Grand Final, particularly in the shooting circle with Saviour Tui elevated to the ANZ Premiership and Monalisa Groom unavailable due to injury.

The return of shooter Jermaine Howard-Vallance will provide new coach Anna Andrews-Tasola with some experience on attack while last year’s Tania Dalton Scholarship winner, Paris Lokotui, gives Manawa a strong option on defence.

Their season opener sees them take on the only other team to have lifted the spoils, the Southern Blast, with the inaugural league winners now under the watchful eye of former Silver Fern Jo Morrison.

She is without both Heffernan twins this season with Kate and Georgia earning Premiership contracts, but she will have one half of another southern set of twins, with Sophie Erwood, sister to the Southern Steel’s Abby Erwood, back in Blast colours.

Morrison is not the only former Silver Fern to guide a BNL team this season with Mary-Jane Araroa back with last year’s finalists, Waikato-BOP, and Temepara Bailey taking on the head coach role with the Northern Comets.

Waikato-BOP will again be spearheaded by dynamic midcourter, Ali Wilshier, who was named the 2019 Beko Netball League Player of the Year, while promising young shooter Khiarna Williams will anchor the shooting circle.

Meanwhile, Bailey will tackle a dual coaching role this season as she continues to act as assistant coach to the Northern Stars in the ANZ Premiership while also picking up the head coach role for the Comets for the first time.

Stars training partners Nanise Waqaira (formerly with the Northern Mystics) and Oceane Maihi along with Kolose sisters, Jaymie and Tori, will feature for the northern side in the BNL.

Their neighbours, the Northern Marvels, are again coached by Ripeka Pirie and will turn to the experience of attacking playmaker Filda Vui who has played since the league started.

Mainland will also turn to the experienced head of Nicola Mackle through the middle with Lily Marshall and Lily Fletcher two players to watch on defence.

They have a new coach in Andrea Cousins who has stepped up from her role as assistant last year.

The 12-week round-robin competition concludes at the TSB Arena in Wellington where the Grand Final will be played on June 21.

NZ Strong Northern Marvels | Coach: Ripeka Pirie

Christie Anderson

Danielle Binks

Emily Burgess

Asher Grapes

Courtney Katterns

Holly Mather

Grace McCarthy

Seroya Nankivell

Nirah Nathan

Anania Piri

Alyssa-Jean Savelio

Jessie Taylor

Emma Thompson

Halaevalu Toutaiolepo

Jazmin Tufuga

Filda Vui

Northern Comets | Coach: Temepara Bailey

Izzy Chan

Patricia Furival

Chonaire Huriwai

Jaymie Kolose

Tori Kolose

Vika Koloto

Tamara Leoni

Oceane Maihi

Christina Oscar

Lisa Putt

Ivana Rowland

Nanise Waqaira

Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty | Coach: Mary-Jane Araroa

Dannielle Dephoff

Georgie Edgecombe

Quantelle Hira-Kapua

Manaia Hutana

Emma Johnson

Ellie McManaway

Brooke Neilson

Anahia Noble

Jade Poi

Hannah Ridling

Greer Sinclair

Katie Te Ao

Emily Ussher

Khiarna Williams

Aaria Williams

Ali Wilshier

Central Manawa | Coach: Anna Andrews-Tasola

Allie Dunn

Colleen Faleafaga

Jermaine Howard-Vallance

Paris Lokotui

Parris Mason

Grace McLean

Emma-May Murray-Fifita

Bianca Nagaiya

Caitlin O'Sullivan

Parris Petera

Charity Polu

Leehava Saverio

Danielle Tafili

Api Taufa

Salote Taufa

Ofa Vatikani

Netball Mainland | Coach: Andrea Cousins

Tiuana-Marie Aiono

Rachel Albiston

Jess Allan

Jenna Barrett

Manaia Feather

Lily Fletcher

Zoey Flockton

Hannah Glen

Emma Hartnell

Charlotte Knight

Nicola Mackle

Laura Mann

Lily Marshall

Lina Pale

Tiana Placid

Natasha Ryan

Southern Blast | Coach: Jo Morrison

Annabel Angland

Ella Brown

Sophie Erwood

Maddie Feaunati

Kate Hartley

Sara McCarthy

Mara McCurdy

Holly Munro

Grace Namana

Kiana Pelasio

Lauren Pickett

Meg Sycamore

Meleitia Tatupu

Taylor Thorne

Della-May Vining

Georgia White