We preview the ANZ Championship netball competition

We are two weeks into the 2016 season of the ANZ Championship so we thought it was high-time we explored the teams competing.

Below is an overview of the 10 teams competing for glory in the ANZ Championship, including the five New Zealand sides; Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Central Pulse, Southern Steel, Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix.

New Zealand and Australia enjoy one of world sport’s most fierce rivalries in international matches, but the rivalry between all the teams in the ANZ Championship goes close to the one experienced at national level.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will be in action this weekend against Southern Steel at Energy Events Centre. Click here to get your tickets to be part of the action!

New Zealand Teams

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Coach: Julie Fitzgerald
Captain: Leana de Bruin
The X Factor: Leana de Bruin

Magic finished second in the New Zraland conference in 2015 and knocked out two teams in the finals – Southern Steel and Northern Mystics – before falling to the NSW Swifts one game from the Grand Final. In 2016, you can bet this side is looking for revenge and improvement. Magic boasts one of New Zealand’s most experienced and best defenders in Leana de Bruin. She has not played in 2016 due to injury, but Magic will be working overtime to get her back on court.

Central Pulse
Coach: Tanya Dearns
Captain: Katrina Grant
The X Factor: Ameliaranne Wells

The Central Pulse suffered a massive loss in the off season, losing shooter and Silver Fern Jodi Brown to a serious knee injury. The New Zealand superstar was forced to retire following the injury and the shooting duties will now be left to Pulse’s pair, Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Wells. Pulse didn’t play finals in 2015 so they will working hard in 2016 to change that this season.

Northern Mystics
Coach: Debbie Fuller
Captain: Maria Tutaia
The X factor: Cathrine Tuivaiti (nee Latu)

The Northern Mystics are blessed with two of New Zealand’s best goal scorers, Cathrine Tuivaiti (nee Latu) and captain Maria Tutaia. The Mystics were top of the New Zealand conference, but they were bundled out of the finals suffering defeats against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and the eventual winners of the competition, the Queensland Firebirds. In a further blow, the side lost NZ Silver Ferns vice-captain Laura Langman to the Swifts. Despite the loss of Langman, we have high expectations for the Mystics in 2016.

Southern Steel
Coach: Noeline Taurua
Captain: Wendy Frew
The X Factor: Gina Crampton

Southern Steel opened their 2016 campaign with a thrilling 1-goal victory over the Northern Mystics. With no respect for the nerves of their supporters, Round 2 was even closer, with the Steel registering a tight draw with the Tactix. If that form is anything to go by, fans will be without finger nails for the majority of the season. The side has many excellent players so we expect to see a few good wins from them this year.

Mainland Tactix
Coach: Sue Hawkins
Captain: Anna Thompson
The X Factor:  Jess Moulds

The Mainland Tactix had a very forgettable 2015 season. They finished last in the New Zealand conference and won just one match for the season. There is no doubt the team will be itching for better performances in 2016 with a bid to shoot up the ladder. Jess Moulds is a senior defender and also a key contributor. They will need a good showing from her in 2016 if they hope to climb the ladder.

Australian Teams

Adelaide Thunderbirds
Coach: Michelle den Dekker
Captain: Erin Bell
The X Factor: Carla Borrego

2015 was a forgettable year for the Thunderbirds, but they announced a new coach in the off-season and they are ready for a big 2016. The South Australian side has amazing support at its home venue, Priceline Stadium, with the cheering crowd always doing what they can to get their side across the line. The Thunderbirds have plenty of talent on their list, including Jamaican goal scoring machine, Carla Borrego, Diamonds Erin Bell and Khao Watts. The side has its injury worries, losing Cody Lange for the season and missing Amy Steel, who has been diagnosed with glandular fever.

West Coast Fever
Coach: Stacey Rosman
Captain: Ashleigh Brazill
The X Factor: Caitlin Bassett

The West Coast Fever enjoyed its best ever season in 2015, registering nine wins and playing an elimination final against NSW Swifts. The side was bundled out of the final but they have the building blocks for a very successful 2016 season. After two games, the Fever is undefeated in the current season and they are looking to continue their winning ways against the Tactix at HBF Stadium. The side is bursting with talent; they have four Australian Diamonds on the list in Caitlin Bassett, Natalie Medhurst, April Brandley and Ashleigh Brazill. We expect big things from the West Coast Fever in 2016.

Melbourne Vixens
Coach: Simone McKinnis OAM
Captain: Madi Robinson
The X Factor: Geva Mentor

The Melbourne Vixens missed the finals in 2015, so they will be eager to get back up the ladder in 2016. The Vixens lost captain Bianca Chatfield at the end of last season, but they have gained the services of Kelsey Browne, the sister of their new captain Madi Robinson, who has returned from a devastating knee injury. The Vixens are jam-packed with talent; they have two Diamonds players on their list, including Karyn Bailey and Tegan Philip, as well as England national Geva Mentor.

NSW Swifts
Coach: Rob Wright
Captain: Kimberlee Green
The X Factor: Caitlin Thwaites

The 2016 Swifts outfit looks very different to the 2015 team that went down to the Firebords in the Grand Final by one goal. The NSW side has turned over five players, welcoming five fresh faces including Laura Langman from the Mystics. The Swifts boast Diamonds at every turn, with Sharni Layton, Caitlin Thwaites, Paige Hadley  and Kimberlee Green listed in the Australian team squad. The defeat in last year’s grand final burns deeply for the Swifts so you can guarantee they’ll come out firing in 2016.

Queensland Firebirds
Coach: Roselee Jencke
Captain: Laura Geitz
The X Factor: Laura Geitz

The Queensland Firebirds were victorious in the 2015 Grand Final and they are no doubt looking to replicate their incredible success in 2016. Their captain, Laura Geitz, is also captain of the Australian Diamonds, and one of the best players in the ANZ Championship. Geitz’ Diamonds teammates also on the Firebirds’ list include Gabi Simpson, Kim Ravaillion and Clare McMeniman. The Firebirds have serious firepower in the circle, with Jamaican Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett. The Queensland team is definitely one to watch in 2016.

The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will play Southern Steel on Sunday April 17 at Energy Events Centre. Click here to purchase tickets now.