Netball: Tuki excited about opportunity to play for Magic

Jessica Tuki
Jessica Tuki
Former Silver Ferns shooter Jessica Tuki has played her last game for Otago.

The 20-year-old goal attack has signed with Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic for the 2009 ANZ Championship and will move to Hamilton.

"I was very, very stoked when Noeline [Taurua, Magic coach] rang me and was interested," Tuki said.

"I just think it is going to add more to my game, training and hopefully playing with Irene [van Dyk] and Maria [Tutaia]."

Tuki, a bench player for the Southern Steel last season, shifted to Dunedin three years ago from New Plymouth to attend the University of Otago and play netball for the province.

While she is excited about playing for a team which shapes as one of the title favourites, there is some sadness leaving Dunedin.

"I'll miss a lot of people. I've got some great mentors down there like Georgie [Salter]. She has been amazing for my confidence building and development over the last couple of years and just all the girls down there."

Her Otago career finished on a high note, with her side beating North 56-53 in the third-fourth play-off in Rotorua on Saturday.

"It's bloody great to finish on a win."

Tuki had a good campaign for Otago.

While her shooting still runs hot and cold, her passing and work-rate have improved out of sight and, along with Phillipa Finch and Hannah Broederlow, she was one of Otago's most consistent players.

Tuki has vision on the court which separates her from the ordinary and marks her out as a player with the X-factor coaches love to talk about.

It was that vision which prompted the national selectors to pick her to replace an injured Jodi Brown in the Silver Ferns squad that won the gold medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.

She played for the Otago Rebels the same year but was dropped for the following season due to bad form.

The then teenager lost confidence and her shooting percentages fell away to the point where there was talk of using her in the midcourt.

"I think it [a shift to midcourt] is still a possibility but I still see myself has an attacking player. I enjoy the pressure of shooting."

Otago players Hannah Broederlow, Camilla Lees and Jess Moulds and Otago Under-21 player Claire Kersten have been named in a 17-strong New Zealand Under-21 squad to contest the 2009 World Youth Cup in the Cook Islands.

Lees, who has signed with the Canterbury Tactix, was also named in the national championship tournament team along with Otago team-mate, Debbie White.