NSW have no weakness: Magic netball coach

Jun 13, 2015 - 3:56 AM The NSW Swifts have no weaknesses, according to their former coach Julie Fitzgerald, who has the chance to inflict another dose of trans-Tasman netball heartbreak on her ex-apprentice in Sunday's semi-final in Hamilton.

The Swifts beat the Magic 48-43 in Tauranga back in round two, but the Kiwi team were without key defender Casey Kopua for that game and top shooter Jo Harten was injured during the match.

Kopua recently returned from a long-term knee injury.

It's the Swifts who have a fitness issue for Sunday, with captain and midcourt linchpin Kimberlee Green rated only a 50-50 chance of playing due to an ongoing calf problem.

Magic coach Fitzgerald and her NSW counterpart Rob Wright, who served two years as her assistant when she was head coach at the Swifts, each believe their teams have improved since the early-season meeting.

Australian Fitzgerald has steered the Magic to the NZ conference title in her second year at the helm, having taken them to the preliminary final last season, when she was named the competition's coach of the year.

Although she lost both regular-season matches she coached against the Swifts, Fitzgerald made a triumphant return to Sydney last year, when the Magic scored a one-goal win in an elimination semi-final.

"She (Fitzgerald) has done a great job of bringing a new team together and created a culture where we play for one another and have one another's back," Magic wing attack Grace Rasmussen told AAP.

Fitzgerald was thrilled by the resilience of her side, who won their earlier finals matches by margins of two and three goals after trailing at the last break in both.

She gave credit to the Swifts and to Wright, who she has known for many years, with both of them coming through the same local association in Sydney.

The Swifts can field an entire starting seven of Test players, if Green is cleared to play.

"They've bought very well; they are such a strong team; they have no weaknesses; they have depth coming off the bench as well," said Fitzgerald, who still keeps in contact with some of her former Swifts charges.

"They have built so well across the season - they have improved every game they've played.

"At the beginning of the year, they were looking a bit vulnerable - now, they are definitely one of the title favourites."

Wright thanked Fitzgerald for her help in his development as a coach and was wary of the Magic, the only team to make the finals in each of the competition's first eight years.

"What I think the Magic have been doing really well is they fight incredibly hard, no matter what the situation," Wright told AAP.

"They have been really disciplined and just kept possession, especially in their (conference final) game on Monday night.

"To me, it will be making sure we can disrupt that sort of flow."

Source: AAP

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