Feeling very much at home on New Zealand soil, suiting up for the Central Pulse in this year’s ANZ Championship is a natural fit for well-travelled netballer Chelsea Locke (nee Pitman).
Looking to make a statement in her return to the trans-Tasman league, much has changed for Locke in recent months during which she has relocated to her spiritual home from the UK, become eligible for the Silver Ferns and found time during a busy pre-season to get married.
Taking a break from the trans-Tasman league last year to turn out for the Manchester Thunder in the UK Super League, Locke, a versatile and experienced attacker, is a previous ANZ Championship winner with the Queensland Firebirds (2011) while also being a part of the Australian Diamonds world championship winning team the same year.
``Nerves mixed with a whole lot of excitement,’’ Locke said of her return to the world’s premier netball league. ``I feel like it’s my first year again and I’ve got all the passion and the love back for it and I’ve been just like a kid in a candy shop after our first week of training.’’
Born in Australia but with strong links to New Zealand through her mother, Locke, who travels on a New Zealand passport, started school on this side of the Tasman before the family returned to Australia. With all of her extended family living in New Zealand, Locke was a frequent visitor during school holidays and every Christmas in her younger years.
Excited by the prospect of helping the Pulse open a new chapter under the guidance of coach Tanya Dearns with a new-look playing roster proved a strong pull. There was also the added incentive that Locke, 27, has met the requirements for Silver Ferns eligibility after undergoing a four-year stand-down from Australian selection.
``Tanya’s vision really interested me,’’ she said. ``I wanted to challenge myself by coming into a different team environment and seeing if I could help turn Pulse’s past results around and show that if you’ve got the right culture, the right team together and all those little x-factors that you can be successful. And I’ve always loved Wellington and the city, so I just thought it was a good move for me.
``Also, it’s a New Zealand team and I wanted to be in New Zealand as a Kiwi because I’m now a free agent. I want to represent at international level again.’’
The move has also meant a long distance relationship for the start of her married life to former Warriors and New Zealand rugby league international Kevin Locke after the pair tied the knot in Sydney last month.
After recent shoulder reconstruction surgery, Kevin Locke is focussing on his rehab in Auckland with the hope of joining a NRL club in the coming months.
``We knew when I signed that this is where it would head,’’ Locke said. ``He understands that this is what I wanted to do and is very supportive.’’
Primarily a wing attack, Locke, who is also able to play centre and goal attack, started her ANZ Championship career with the Canterbury Tactix in 2010 before becoming a key member of the Firebirds from 2011-13. She spent 2014 with West coast Fever before heading to the Super League last year.
With the Pulse players assembling in mid-January, pre-season training is now in full swing. Sharing a house in Wellington with former Firebirds team-mates Jacinta Messer (import) and Ameriaranne Wells, just a short 1.5km away from training and with a view of the sea, Locke is keen to add her touch to the mix.
``I hope to bring a bit of experience and just a bit of flair in the old style of how I used to play, have fun and read the game well,’’ she said. ``I just get so excited about little things, like doing court work and throwing the ball around. I truly love the game and think it’s pretty cool what we do, so I’m hoping that rubs off on the other girls.’’
The Pulse open their campaign against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on April 4 in Wellington.
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Last Modified on 28/01/2016 14:25