Webster back for Nuggets

Tai Webster will return for a second stint with the Otago Nuggets.

The talented 28-year-old guard will leap on the imaginary conveyor belt which shuttles players over from the Perth Wildcats.

The two teams are owned by the same company and Webster is one of four players the teams now share in common.

Guards Dontae Russo-Nance, Ben Henshall and centre Jack Andrew have already been confirmed in the Nuggets lineup for 2024.

Webster is the biggest signing so far. He arrived late last season and made a big impact during his six games in the singlet.

He averaged 21 points, 7.3 rebounds and six assists.

His duels with brother Corey, who suited up for the Canterbury Rams, created headlines.

Tai won round one but Corey helped the Rams to a 114-103 win in the semifinal.

Coach Brent Matehaere said Webster’s return was a boost for the franchise.

"Last year he energised the group, so we are looking forward to that again this year," Matehaere said.

Webster "is a multi-skilled player" and "brings a lot to the team".

Potentially he can play almost anywhere in the lineup, which gives the Nuggets a lot of options.

But it is his experience which will arguably be the greatest asset.

The Nuggets have a young guard line in the likes of Russo-Nance and Henshall, so putting a seasoned campaigner like Webster next to them will greatly enhance their development.

Webster is a sound defensive player and the Nuggets have built their game around water-tight defence.

But he can score as well. He has good pace and can get to the hoop.

The four Wildcats are expected to be available for the Nuggets’ opening game against the Southland Sharks at the Edgar Centre on March 30.

The other confirmed players are Darcy Knox, Robbie Coman, Matt Bardsley and Benjamen Freeman.

The Nuggets have two import slots still open.

"Other teams are naming theirs reasonably early but we are still working through that process. We are having conversations with people, but it is making sure we find the right fit for us positionally, but also the right people.

"Surrounding yourself with good people is probably the most important thing."

Sam Timmins has moved on, which leaves the Nuggets with a decision to make around the centre spot. Jack Andrew made the most of his court time, but has he progressed enough to make the team as the starting centre or do the Nuggets look for an import in that spot?

They are probably also looking for an outside shooter.