In what will be her shortest road trip of the season, coach Tanya Dearns will kick-start the Central Pulse ANZ Championship netball campaign from her back doorstep in Napier on Saturday.

In a change from the weekly commute to Wellington for trainings, Dearns will welcome her new-look Pulse team to Pettigrew Green Arena when they step out for their first pre-season outing against a seasoned Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

With seven changes from last year’s edition, the most for any team in the trans-Tasman league, and a new coaching staff in place, the Pulse have spent time bedding in their processes and getting to know each other while clocking up the training miles during their six weeks together.

I’m under no illusions that our first proper hit-out against Magic next Saturday is going to be really tough,’’ Dearns said. It will certainly give us an indication of where we’re at and what else we need to work on between now and the start of the season (April 4).

We have just started putting some full court elements into our training sessions, so the players have had a taste of it and were itching to get stuck in. The stuff we’ve been doing at training is now at the stage where it needs a full court and a proper game to be able to trial some of it.’’

Conceding there was still plenty for the Pulse to work on, the match is timely for Dearns where the focus will be primarily on her own team while providing a valuable opportunity to test the waters.

We want to try and put out the processes and the structures that we’ve been working on and enjoy it for what it is,’’ she said. It’s the first hit-out for us of our pre-season and we need to get out there and enjoy it.’’

The match will be played over six quarters, offering an indication of where the team sits while providing the opportunity to maximise game time for the whole team.

I’m quite excited to be having a game on my home patch,’’ said Dearns, who has resided in Hawke’s Bay for nearly 13 years. It’s an opportunity for my friends and the family that we have here to be able to see where it is I’m going and what I’m doing, and it’s nice to be able to showcase ANZ Championship level netball in the provinces because we don’t get the opportunity to see it very often up here.

It’s also an opportunity to get out and about in the netball community up here and repay some of the loyalty we get from the public and local businesses who support us.

Pettigrew Green Arena is a great venue with a great playing surface, smaller than what we normally play in but hopefully we fill it with 2-1/2 thousand supporters cheering us on at the weekend.’’

The Central and Waikato Bay of Plenty National Netball League teams will play the curtain-raiser at 11.30am in preparation for the season’s new competition which runs in conjunction with the ANZ Championship.

Saturday, February 27, 2pm, Central Pulse vs Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Napier. Tickets $12 for adults and $5 for children, via Ticket Direct.

Sunday, March 6, 2pm Central Pulse vs Northern Mystics, New Plymouth. Tickets $12 for adults and $5 for children, via Ticket Master.

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