Netball’s Breakout Stars for 2022

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In a year where the Silver Ferns seek to right a wrong, the ANZ Premiership will be an important testing ground for talent. Merryn Anderson looks at six players aiming for a breakout season.

As 2022 offers an ever-changing sporting landscape, the ANZ Premiership will need to remain nimble and adaptable.

This weekend, defending champions Northern Mystics take on 2021 wooden spoons Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Hamilton to kick off this year’s competition (albeit without crowds under red light restrictions).

It’s been a big year for netball, with the Silver Ferns looking to erase all memories of Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games nightmares when they travel to Birmingham in July.

There have been a lot of changes in the international team since that fourth place four years ago; pregnancies, retirement, injuries and a decline in form leaving places open to all.

After some notable off-season changes, LockerRoom takes a look at one player from each of the six franchises who is set to have a breakout season.

The Mystics have the chance to return back-to-back this year, with Filda Vui returning to the team. Photo: Getty Images

Filda Vui (Northern Mystics)

After her first contracted season with the Northern Mystics, Vui was rewarded with a call-up to the wider Silver Ferns squad to compete in the Quad Series in England in January.

Vui played 11 games for the Mystics last season, scoring 70 goals with 80% accuracy. With her no-frills cornering and shooting style, she teamed up with Grace Nweke to help the Mystics win their first-ever ANZ Premiership title.

The 25-year-old shooter returns to the blue dress for 2022, and with Bailey Mes’ move to the Magic, Vui will line up alongside Nweke and Monica Falkner, likely on offense on goal.

With Nweke easily the most prolific shooter in 2021 (over 200 more attempts than his closest rival), it’s easy for the Mystics’ goal attacks to step back and simply play a feeding role.

But not seen. After receiving the call from the Silver Ferns, she will be ready to step in for the Mystics and join the Fern environment for her Black Dress debut.

Amorangi Malesala (North Stars)

Having first tasted ANZ Premiership netball in 2017 with the Magic, Amorangi Malesala plied her trade in Sydney for two years before returning home to South Auckland and the Stars last year.

Malesala was one of four quality shooters in the Stars’ roster, but still managed 143 minutes of playing time, scoring 62 goals.

While Maia Wilson has maintained the shots on goal bib for the past five years, the Stars have chained attacks on goal, including Jamie Hume (who is still on the team).

Malesala found his groove in the second half of the season, complementing Wilson’s strength under the hoop with his long-range accuracy.

The Stars will be looking to repair their poor finish of the 2021 season and Malesala has the chance to raise his hand to be their number one pick for the goal attack bib.

Off the pitch, the 23-year-old is studying towards a law degree, hoping to give back to her community and be a voice for Maori and Pasifika youth.

A new Magic team awaits in 2022, including defender Oceane Maihi (center).

Oceane Maihi (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)

Oceane Maihi is moving south to mighty Waikato this season and will fit into a very defensive Magic team.

Seven of the Magic’s 10 contracted players can play side defense or circle defense, so the fight for time on the field will be tough (although the most experienced defender, Katrina Rore, is now expecting her second child) . Both Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong have Silver Ferns caps as circle defenders, while Maihi is a member of the Silver Ferns development team.

A proud Northlander, Maihi put her physio work on hold to focus on netball, and was rewarded with her first year under contract with the Stars.

She has played in 13 of the Stars’ 15 games in 2021, donning the purple dress alongside Elle Temu and experienced header Anna Harrison.

Dividing her time between goal defense and goalkeeping, Maihi’s strength and agility with her 1.83m frame will cause a selection dilemma for new Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa.

Paris Lokotui will don the yellow dress again this year, likely to be paired with a wing defense bib. Photo: provided

Paris Lokotui (Central Pulse)

Paris Lokotui made her ANZ Premiership debut last year, having represented New Zealand as a high school girl in basketball and water polo.

Maddy Gordon’s knee injury gives Lokotui the chance to make the wing defense his own at the Pulse this year.

Starting the Pulse’s 2021 season primarily as a wing defence, Lokotui spent more time in goal defense towards the end of the season.

Likely to be used in lateral defense this year, Lokotui’s strength and power on the pitch complement his personality.

The 20-year-old received a scholarship from the Tania Dalton Foundation in 2019 and was chosen as the vice-captain of the NZU21 team for their matches in 2020.

A member of the Silver Ferns development team, Lokotui was also part of the wider Silver Ferns squad for last year’s series against the England Roses and Aotearoa Men.

Vika Koloto is making the trip south this year to last year’s grand finalists, the Tactix.

Vika Koloto (Mainland Tactix)

Another 2019 Tania Dalton Foundation Scholar, Vika Koloto was initially named as a sparring partner for the 2022 Tactix but switched to a contract player when Jane Watson announced her pregnancy.

The 1.8m shooter planned to use 2022 to develop her skills as a shooter and attacking on the wings, but will have the chance to really make her mark on a Tactix team that fell at the last hurdle last year , losing by two goals to the Mystics in the Grand Final.

The Tactix relied heavily on Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit last season but now have four shooters, with Koloto’s NZU21 teammate Hannah Glen also dropping as training partner.

Koloto’s first glimpse of ANZ Premiership netball came in 2020 with the Stars, playing two games as a substitute player. Her move to Christchurch marks her first time away from home, so this year will push her out of her comfort zone as she looks to perform in her first full season at elite level.

Savior Tui celebrates her ANZ Premiership win with Mystics teammate Grace Nweke. Photo: Getty Images

Savior Tui (Southern Steel)

Even on the bench, you could still see the smiling face of young shooter Savior Tui last season.

The 20-year-old only managed 14 minutes of playing time with the Mystics in 2021 compared to 374 minutes in 2020.

Primarily a shot on goal, Tui was stuck behind Nweke at the Mystics, with Bailey Mes and Filda Vui filling the goal attack role in 2021. But she stood out for the Northern Wonders in their National Netball League (her 54 of 56 leading the Wonders to their big final victory over Northern Comets).

But this season Tui has made the move south, teaming up in the goal circle with Georgia Heffernan, returning from an ACL injury, and England’s George Fisher.

Tui impressed as a member of the New Zealand U21 side who played in the 2020 Cadbury Netball Series against the Ferns, New Zealand A and Aotearoa men.

Her long-range accuracy and ability to find space under the hoop make her an asset to any team, and if she can withstand the pressure of a quality defense she could easily be in trouble. vying for the Silver Ferns in the future.

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