Milestone special moment for Watson

Jane Watson will bring up her 100th game for the Tactix on Sunday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Jane Watson will bring up her 100th game for the Tactix on Sunday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Jane Watson bleeds red and black.

But never count out the blue and gold roots running deep in her veins and helping stamp her mark as one of the best goal keeps in the world.

The Silver Ferns defender grew up in South Canterbury, but it was when her family moved to Millers Flat — and later boarding at St Kevin’s College in Oamaru — where Watson’s zest for netball began.

She will bring up another milestone in her beloved Canterbury colours, playing her 100th game for the Tactix against the Steel on Sunday.

Not one to usually get emotional, Watson said it meant a lot to bring up the milestone for the team she started her career with 11 years ago.

"It’s been a long time coming, I think," Watson said.

"To celebrate it with these guys is very awesome and to have my family there, and my daughter, will be really special."

Sitting on the bench in the early years, Watson never gave much thought to playing 100 Tactix games — or even reaching 141 games in total — and had not put much thought in to how she would feel running out to her home crowd at Christchurch Arena.

"I hope I get nervous ... I like the bit of adrenaline.

"I think I’ll get a little bit emotional with my family there.

"But it’s also quite cool that we’re playing the Steel. I have been a part of their team as well even if it’s just 100 Tactix games."

After spending two seasons with the Tactix, Watson moved to the South and joined the Southern Steel from 2015 to 2017.

It revitalised her career, playing alongside Steel stalwart Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and former Silver Fern Storm Purvis, and led to a memorable era for the Steel.

The Steel was the New Zealand conference minor premier in the transtasman ANZ Championship in 2016, and went undefeated in winning the inaugural ANZ Premiership and Super Club titles in 2017, and Watson was named most valuable player the same year.

Her time with the Steel helped her grow as a person and a player, but the lure of Canterbury was too strong and in 2018 she returned to the Tactix.

She knew there was a big job ahead, as the Tactix had finished last with two wins from 15 games the previous year.

"Obviously, Tactix had been bottom of the table for a very long time.

"I think they didn’t quite have a high performance environment and I think that’s something I really wanted to try and help implement by coming back, because I think the Steel has done a very good job of that.

"The mix of people you have as well — everything that you sort of bring around you, not just yourself, but what you can bring out of other people is really important.

"I think we’ve achieved a lot since my time back."

She helped the Tactix to a remarkable turnaround, making the elimination final in 2018, played her 100th domestic game in 2019, and captained the Tactix to consecutive grand finals in 2020 — when she was named the ANZ Premiership player of the year — and 2021.

"I’m definitely proud of where we’ve all come. It’s not only on one person you know.

"So many people have had an input into it, and I think even the people in the past as well have worked their way in and added value to the legacy as well."

There is still one accolade that has eluded her — a premiership with the Tactix.

"Everyone wants to win. That is the main goal.

"You don’t come here to just have a walk in the park. It’s your job, you’re paid to do it and we’re representing everybody in our region and that’s what we want to do for them."

Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek called Watson the picture of wanting to win.

"She’s the person that drives the culture behind the scenes," Delaney-Hoshek said.

"She’s been a massive driver over the last five or six years and she’s been instrumental in why we’ve been able to turn this team around on and off the court.

"Honestly, I can’t say enough about her."