Experienced international defensive duo Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin have been named captain and vice-captain respectively of Kia Magic for this year’s ANZ Championship netball competition.
In-coming coach Julie Fitzgerald had no hesitation in turning to the respected pair to help lead a youthful Kia Magic team into a new era.
The mantle will sit easily with Kopua, 27, the only foundation member left at Kia Magic, who assumed the Silver Ferns captaincy four years ago while de Bruin, 35, has matured into an outstanding performer and leader during her long career.
``I’m delighted to have Casey as captain,’’ Fitzgerald said. ``I love her style of captaincy and I think she will lead this team very well.
``They’re the two senior players in the team who will give a lot of guidance to the younger ones.
``On court there will be other leaders but Casey and Leana will be the obvious ones who are driving us at training and leading us on court.’’
Kia Magic got together as a team for the first time during the week before Kopua, de Bruin and training partners Courtney Tairi and Malia Paseka departed for the Silver Ferns tour of the UK on Thursday.
``Casey and Leana were more than keen to be with us on Tuesday night for our first session together despite having to be in Auckland with the Silver Ferns the next morning,’’ Fitzgerald said.
Kopua had tidy-up ankle surgery last month and will not play for the Silver Ferns on tour but has been included as a training partner. With the medical team happy with her progress, Fitzgerald said Kopua is on target to be ready for the start of the Trans-Tasman competition with Kia Magic set to play the opening fixture against Tactix in Christchurch on March 1.
Fitzgerald has now become a more permanent fixture on this side of the Tasman, the Australian arriving for her two-year coaching tenure with Kia Magic last weekend having taken up residence in a cottage on the edge of Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge.
The team completed two training sessions during the week but are down on numbers due to the Silver Ferns tour and import Jo Harten remaining in the UK to play for England against the toruists.
To compound matters Grace Rasmussen and Ellen Halpenny have been involved with the New Zealand Accelerant squad, who have been in camp with the Silver Ferns.
``You’re kidding yourself if you say it’s not ideal but it’s something we’ve been aware of all along,’’ Fitzgerald said. ``It’s a fact of life in modern day sport and international netball now, so we’ll cope as best we can.’’
Kia Magic will now have a mix of training, pre-season games and gym sessions in the seven-week lead-in to the start of the ANZ Championship.
On Saturday, a composite team which has been bolstered by Lion Foundation and under-23 players from the Zone will have court sessions aginst the New Zealand Accelerant squad in Auckland.
The team will undertake a promotional road trip within the Zone to Whakatane and Gisborne on January 18 and have two games against the Central Pulse in New Plymouth on February 1 and 2 before taking in the championship pre-season tournament in Melbourne on February 15-16.