‘I can’t train this’: Mystics coach delighted with how Grace Nweke doesn’t fear


Northern Mystics Shootout Grace Nweke made 58 of her 62 shots in their ANZ Premiership Grand Final victory over Mainland Tactix – and got the rebound three of the four times she missed.

These are the kinds of numbers you would expect from her, even though she is only 19 years old. It was the 12th time this season that she has finished a game with 50 or more goals under her belt and the ninth time she has made 60 attempts – at least one per minute.

But what stands out most for her coach, Hélène Wilson, is how much she wants the ball.

Grace Nweke was a reliable shot for the Northern Mystics in 2021.

Andrew Cornaga / Photosport

Grace Nweke was a reliable shot for the Northern Mystics in 2021.

“Someone has potential as a shooter when they want the ball and want to be the center of attention at this critical moment,” she said after the 61-59 victory at Spark Arena in Auckland on Sunday .

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“Grace is on the ground telling Peta [Toeava] to give him a decent ball and Tayla [Earle] thus, both.

“I just think it’s something really special. I can’t coach this. You can’t teach people that, that’s her.

Nweke made her debut for the Mystics in the third round of the 2019 season, against their crosstown rivals the Stars, while in her senior year of high school at Avondale College.

She came into play early in the third quarter in a match where her side were already trailing 11 and had an instant impact by closing the gap to six at the final whistle.

Nweke got her first start just three games later, and since then her height – she is 1.93m – and strength have made her one of New Zealand netball’s biggest offensive threats.

Tactix defender Jane Watson described her as a “weapon” after Sunday’s final, while her captain, defender Sulu Fitzpatrick, noted how much she enjoyed training against her, then praised her ability to handling the pressure of being a volume shooter, one of his teammates are looking for every opportunity.

“At 19, being able to take that kind of pressure for a whole season shows that she’s very mature.

“I’m proud of her and know this is just the start.

Nweke will likely be included when the Silver Ferns’ first team of the year is named on Tuesday. She played for the national team in a series of internal matches last year, but has yet to make her debut.

Wilson said it would be “fantastic” if Nweke was selected by Ferns coach Noeline Taurua this week, but is confident that she will one day make it as she has already shown a great willingness to learn.

“In the two and a half to three years that we’ve had her, to become someone who didn’t feel like a part of that high performance environment that she was in today, I just think that’s a testament to her ability to learn, but also her maturity to have performance conversations with girls.

“She wants to know why, and she’s really curious about how she can be better, and she’s had the training and the staff behind her to increase her physical skills.

“There is still more to come – she is so young, and I love to watch her grow up.”

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