The week of her debut for the Mainland Tactix, Greer Sinclair had to drive to a warehouse to pick up the correct team merchandise for her family.
The 22-year-old defender played for three different ANZ Premiership teams last season, able to be loaned to other teams due to the disruptions of Covid. You could understand if her support crew felt a little confused.
Previously a training partner for the Stars, Sinclair played her first game for the Christchurch-based Tactix this month – back in her hometown, Auckland, against her old team.
“That was really cool because I had my whole family and friends there, a little army behind us,” Sinclair says.
“For me to get that full game and to start was amazing, because it gave me self-confidence and I enjoyed it so much.
“Then to also have my family and my friends there, who’ve been supporting me since the beginning, was really special.”
Sinclair had to tell her dad he couldn’t wear his old merch – he only had Stars colours – so she picked up the right team kit before the game, creating her own corner of red and black at the match.
Last season, Sinclair played for the Mystics, Magic and Stars – all while balancing work as a nanny, coaching netball and studying. (She’s been doing a lot of her study online with AUT, working towards a business and marketing degree).
“It was a weird one, playing with three different teams,” she says.
“You can’t really go into a team and learn all of the structures and all of the plays within the week leading up to the game. So I just went in there and just played netball and had fun and enjoyed it.”
This year, she received her first full contract, moving down south to Christchurch. She also works with the Tactix marketing team, as part of a placement paper for her degree.
She’s always admired the Tactix for the team’s loyalty and strength, and was excited to have the opportunity to play for the Canterbury side.
“I’ve always looked up to that, and obviously with Jane [Watson] and Karin [Burger] in the defensive end, that’s a huge pull for me,” says Sinclair, as the Tactix prepare for their South Island derby match with the Steel in Invercargill tonight.
Sinclair has almost 150 caps of international experience surrounding her, with Silver Ferns Watson and Burger in the circle and English international Laura Malcolm in the midcourt.
She also flats with Malcolm and Pulse-turned-Tactix shooter Aliyah Dunn. “They’re such a laugh, they’re great,” Sinclair says.
Sinclair reckons she can’t even list how much she’s learnt from the veteran defenders in the short time she’s been at the Tactix.
“They just see the game differently because they’ve had so much experience,” she says.
“Even my attacking game’s improved cause I’m hitting the line harder. I’m working off Karin, and Jane’s voice from the back – she’s just always talking so I can always hear her.
“They’re all an asset to be working with, that whole D [defensive] end with Laura in the front as well, it’s amazing. I’ve still got lots more to learn, so I’m just going to be a sponge the whole season.”
Being able to be in one team for a full season is a gift for Sinclair, and not because she can now plan her life easier.
“Actually settling into a team and growing connections and partnerships on court and off court is just so much better for my game to improve,” she says.
“The little things like my work-ons and my strengths, I can hone in on them and improve them.”
Sinclair played a full match at wing defence in the Tactix’ 55-49 win over the Stars in round one, and was equally effective in the midcourt as she was in defence.
“We were stoked off that first win – it sort of set our tone and how we’re going to start the season,” Sinclair says.
She had an even tidier second game, playing the first three quarters at wing defence, as the Tactix lost to reigning champs the Mystics after a second half slump.
“I think we’ve reset, we know what we did wrong, what we need to work on so we’ve gone back to that this week and trained that hard,” she says.
The Tactix take on the Steel on Monday, a team who’ve been struggling since the loss of goal shoot George Fisher with a knee injury.
A comprehensive win over the Steel could see them shoot up the table, a big boost so early in the season.
Making the Silver Ferns has been a goal of Sinclair’s since she was a little girl. She’s reached national honours before – as a student at Epsom Girls Grammar, Sinclair made the New Zealand secondary schools team in 2017 and ’18, and was in the New Zealand U21 side who were working towards the Youth World Cup in 2021, which was ultimately cancelled because of the pandemic.
Having her first full season in the ANZ Premiership is something she believes will help to reach her Silver Ferns dream.
“Being selected from the beginning and being chosen in that 10, it just gives you the self-confidence to believe in yourself and know you’re good enough to be there,” she says.
“You can actually put yourself first to improve in little things in the game you need to work on.”
The Magic pulled off an incredible turnaround of fortunes on Sunday, with a one-goal extra-time victory over the previously unbeaten Mystics in Hamilton. After two heavy losses, the Magic found themselves trailing by 10 after the first quarter, but patiently chipped away and won every other spell, drawing level at the end of 60 minutes. Goal keep Erena Mikaere, pulling in five intercepts, put the Mystics attack under pressure they couldn’t respond to and the home side won 57-56.
The Pulse put the wind up the Stars in their encounter in Auckland, but a strong third quarter performance by the Stars – with former Silver Ferns captain, and mum of two, Katrina Rore coming to their aid – turned around last year’s grand final result, and they came away 59-51 winners.
*The Tactix play the Steel in Invercargill at 7.30pm on Monday, with coverage live on Sky Sport 1, to complete round three.