Netball: Shooting star keen to stay on

Irene van Dyk
Irene van Dyk
In every interview Silver Ferns shooter Irene van Dyk gives she is inevitably asked when she plans to retire.

So it did not come as any great surprise when the Otago Daily Times apologised in advance then dutifully asked the obvious.

The good-humoured 36-year-old giggled, then offered what is now a well-rehearsed answer.

"I absolutely love the game and I don't have any injuries. So as long as Ruth [Aitken, Silver Ferns coach] and Wai [Waimarama Taumaunu, assistant coach] select me, I'm happy to oblige," she said.

"Your international career is not that long . . . so I'm just making the most of it while I have the opportunity."

The world's most-capped international netballer has racked up 159 tests - 87 for the Silver Ferns and 72 for South Africa.

With that amount of experience you could be forgiven for thinking there is not much van Dyk has not seen or done in netball.

Well, you would be wrong.

The New Zealand 2004 Sportswoman of the Year has discovered a new lease on her netball life this year.

Formerly a holding goal shoot who never strayed far from the goal post, van Dyk shifted to goal attack this year and has embraced what she acknowledges is a foreign position.

Out of nowhere Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach Noeline Taurua decided to move van Dyk from goal shoot to goal attack.

"I had never ever played goal attack in my whole life . . . and I thought, `oh my God, what am I going to do?'.

"I never thought I'd be able to do it. But for someone like her [Taurua] to have confidence in me, I thought `well, maybe I can do it'."

Depending on who you talk to, it was either a masterstroke or a moment of madness which has been repeated several times.

Van Dyk has had her critics, and she is the first to say she is more comfortable at goal shoot.

But with the Silver Ferns lacking an out-and-out goal attack in the mould of Belinda Colling, van Dyk is happy to fill the void.

"You always have people who are going to shoot you down. But, at the end of the day, it is about doing what is best for the team and not the individual. We do have brilliant individuals in the team but we have to work together as a team to win games.

"I just think it adds to our team and I don't think it takes anything away from my game - it adds to my repertoire."

Van Dyk said she was enjoying having more room to move on the court and, as a consequence, not getting "banged around" as much jostling for position in the shooting circle.

While the shift to goal attack is new, so is playing international netball in Dunedin.

The city last hosted the an international in 1998 and van Dyk said she was looking forward to matching her skills against the English defensive pairing of Sonia Mkoloma and Geva Mentor during the three-match series, which hits Dunedin on October 15.

"They've [Mkoloma and Mentor] got arms for Africa" and are "phenomenal defenders".

"[England] are playing incredible netball. I was really impressed with how they went against Australia [in the first test on October 4].

"The fact that six of them actually played in the ANZ Championship has lifted their game. If you look at the way they played, they play a lot like the Australians and have adapted to the Australian style quite easily.

"They will be tough."


Add a Comment