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Kersten revelling in new Pulse role

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There’s no half-measures for Claire Kersten who has given ample evidence of her depth of talent during Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse’s record-breaking start to this year’s ANZ Premiership netball competition.

Making the move from wing defence, and with limited experience, Kersten has taken to centre like a duck to the proverbial as the Pulse continue to highlight what lies beneath their surface.

In a quirk of the draw, all teams will meet the same opponents as they played in the last round, which for the Pulse means a rematch with the Mystics in Round 6 Super Sunday action in Christchurch.

It’s a rare situation but the intent from the Pulse remains despite their 22-goal win seven days earlier.

“Everyone’s in the same boat at having to go back and look at things pretty quickly and closely,’’ Kersten said. “We’ll certainly be doing that and making sure that we come out better than we did on Sunday. There’s still a lot that we can work on and that we can do to make us better.

“They’re a strong team and they’ve got the potential to push us really hard so we can’t get complacent by any means. On Sunday, we’ve basically got to start fresh again.’’

It’s been a long wait for the 28-year-old Kersten, who, with more opportunities was a revelation last year, leading to Silver Ferns selection and she continues to promote her game in the best possible fashion.

With that in mind, Kersten quit her job of six years as a science and biology teacher at Newlands College in Wellington at the end of last year so she could concentrate fully on netball.

“As much as I did enjoy teaching as a job, I found it really hard juggling it with netball. It was getting to the point where I needed to give netball a bit more time and energy if I wanted to make a really good go of it,’’ she said.

“Teaching takes up a lot of time and mentally it’s really full-on as well. There’s always something that you’re thinking about and I found it quite hard going from that and then coming to training where you had to be really switched on in a different way.

“I was tired quite a lot and rushing quite a lot so it’s definitely nice not to have that sort of stress this year. I can now plan properly for netball. That’s the focus, it’s the first time it’s ever been like that for me which is a treat.’’

Described by her team-mates as probably the most competitive among them, Kersten is a wholehearted performer and leaves as much on the training court as she does the match court. She remains modest about her progress but on current form, is quickly developing into a high-quality centre.

“It’s been a really big challenge and it’s definitely a little harder on the lungs,’’ she said. “You have to approach things slightly differently and be a bit smarter about how you do things on court. There’s still lots that I’ve got to learn, particularly from an attacking point of view but I’m enjoying having a little bit more room.

“At school I was very much a defensive player (goal defence) and when I left school, I was too short for the in-circle position so became a wing defence, then centre is the second decision by default but I haven’t actually played a lot there. I guess it’s all about just being a little bit more versatile and having more options.’’

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