Team goals will be the focus for Central when they open the second edition of the Beko Netball League against newcomers the Northern Comets in Auckland on Saturday.
Coming off a productive pre-season hit-out last weekend which involved impressive outings against fellow Beko teams, the Northern Marvels and Waikato Bay of Plenty as well as a mixed team has left Central well-prepped for the season-proper.
After her team posted positive winning scorelines during their warm-up weekend, Central coach Natalie Milicich is mindful of how things can change once teams settle into full-on competition mode.
``Having last weekend gave us a taste of where we’re at,’’ she said. ``And it was all very positive in regards to the scores but there are lots of work-ons. We created plenty of reflection on where we need to be, the improvement areas and needing to be performance-focussed rather than score-focussed.’’
Central, who finished runners-up in last year’s inaugural Beko league, have worked hard behind the scenes during the off-season, ensuring they won’t be left behind in the fitness stakes.
``From a conditioning point of view last weekend, we looked really well-prepared and based on that aspect we’re ready to go,’’ Milicich said.
``I was really proud with our intensity and togetherness in what was our first outing last weekend in producing a good feeling as a team. There are so many unknown factors but our team values really shone through and we are in a good place leading into our first match.’’
Aligned with the Northern Stars, the Comets are in a similar position to their elite senior team as being the newcomers on the block, and Milicich is not entirely sure what to expect in the season-opener.
``We don’t know anything about them so are a little unsure of what we’ll be up against,’’ she said. ``That’s one of the good things about this competition, there is quite a lot of the unknown but what’s important for us this weekend is consistency with performance.
``We played some really nice netball (last weekend) but we do need to improve on things like our possession to conversion rate, so it’s about consistency across the board and making sure we make the most of our possession.’’
A match-day team of 10 from the 16-strong Central squad will travel to Auckland for the opening match.
The Beko Netball League was introduced last year specifically to strengthen the performance pathway, develop talent and build competitiveness at the elite level.
In 2017, the league will run over 13 weekends involving 31 games including a selection being televised and culminating in a Grand Final on June 18.