Netball: Joy and disapointment for Magic midcourter

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It has been a week of emotional extremes for Magic midcourter Grace Rasmussen.


The excitement of last weekend’s last-gasp win over the Swifts to secure a preliminary final showdown with the Firebirds quickly gave way to disappointment for Rasmussen, who arrived back from Sydney to the news she had missed out on a place in the Silver Ferns team for the Commonwealth Games.


Playing some of the best netball of her career after making the shift to the Magic this season, Rasmussen has been New Zealand’s in-form wing attack in the ANZ Championship. But in a tightly-run contest for Ferns midcourt spots, the national selectors looked past Rasmussen’s efforts this year and plumped for incumbent Shannon Francois and returning mother Liana Leota.


It has made for an emotionally trying start to week two of the transtasman league playoffs for the former Fern, but Rasmussen insists with the support of her teammates and coach Julie Fitzgerald, she has been able to move on and quickly turn her focus to Monday night’s match against the Firebirds.


“With the naming of the Silver Ferns I was really disappointed at the beginning of the week, particularly coming back from a great win in Sydney, it was a bit of a buzz killer,” said a surprisingly upbeat Rasmussen.


“But I’ve dealt with it and I’ll move on. I really want to take that disappointment and channel it into positive energy for Monday’s final.”


You couldn’t blame Rasmussen if she were to be bitter about missing out on the team for Glasgow.


The 26-year-old has been the rock in the under-rated Magic attack end, and one of their most consistent players this season, picking up the ANZ Championship’s “golden bib” award for the best-performing midcourter — statistically speaking — on five occasions. To be overlooked in favour of Leota, a player that has only one full game of transtasman league netball under her belt and freely admits she is still a long way off full fitness after the birth of her third child, must be pretty hard to swallow.


However Rasmussen finds some consolation in the fact the grounds for her non-selection were largely beyond her control. She said the selectors were clearly looking for a different style to what she offers.


“I think I played some of the best netball of my career this season, and the stats have shown it. So I feel I have done everything I can do and at the end of the day you can’t control what the selectors want. I have no regrets and I think I’ve proven myself this season.”


Rasmussen said she hopes to get the opportunity to prove her worth in the Silver Ferns environment in the end of year tests against Australia and England.


An ANZ Championship winners medal would also be a pretty nice consolation prize for Rasmussen.


The Magic team leave for Brisbane tomorrow morning ahead of what they expect will be an all-out scrap for a spot in the title decider against the Vixens in Melbourne. Last week’s tense one-goal win over the heavily favoured Swifts has re-instilled a lot of belief in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side, after a run of losses heading into the playoffs. It wasn’t always a pretty performance, but the Magic managed to hang in there and nail their opportunities when it mattered.


Rasmussen said her side will need to produce a similarly gritty performance against the Firebirds on Monday.


“Julie has reinforced to us quite a bit in training that a win doesn’t necessarily come in the first, second or third quarter, it is often a grind and it’s about making sure we are persistent and we nail those last crucial moments. And at the end of the day I think that is what will get us over the line in Brisbane.”


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