Tactix Sqaud Complete

The Canterbury Tactix have filled their 2012 roster with two top athletes; one local and a second import.

England defender Stacey Francis will be announced next week as the Tactix second import after their application to bend the rules was granted by ANZ Championships organisers TTNL.

Former Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics midcourter Keshia Grant is the final piece of the Tactix 2012 puzzle.

Since starting in the sport as a 14-year-old, Francis` rise has been a quick one. She first played in the English Superleague as a 17-year-old, played in the English under-17, under-19 and under-21 teams and now, as a 23-year-old, has played 20 tests for England including both games against the Silver Ferns earlier this month.

She prefers goal defender, but can play goal keep and wing defence too and said travelling around the world to a city still finding its feet after the February 22 earthquake, did not faze her.

"I love to travel and my parents emigrated to Canada six years ago whilst I decided to stay in England to pursue netball and my academics - so I am used to living without my loved ones close by," she said. "I totally buy into the new vision for Canterbury netball."

Francis joins good friend and fellow English international Jo Harten in the squad. She said apart from Harten she knew very little about her new team-mates but was looking forward to training with the likes of Anna Thompson and Ellen Halpenny.

Francis - the UK Superleague`s player of the tournament this year - comes from strong sporting stock. Her 2.01m father Kevin played 17 seasons of English football at a range of clubs and two internationals for Saint Kitts & Nevis.

Like Francis, Grant too is a talented sportswoman.

The 24-year-old was the New Zealand women`s javelin champion from 2007-2009 and has also played touch rugby at the highest level. Despite being just 1.64m tall, Grant`s elevation, speed and feeding ability make her a strong wing attack option for coach Leigh Gibbs.

So the Tactix now have their full squad of 12.

It`s a more consistent side than last season`s. The bench is likely to be stronger and there will be more competition for places throughout the court.

That said, with the likes of Donna Wilkins and Kasey Evering gone, the side does look light on matchwinners.

Chief executive Pete Smith was quick to point out: "This is not a team full of stars but with the quality of coaches and some of the best support staff in the country we have the potential to be a star team."

Whether Gibbs and assistant Julie Seymour can morph the two-time wooden spoon winners into a force to be reckoned with remains to be seen, but lifting off the bottom of the table has to be a minimum goal.

The side comes together on January 9.

Canterbury Tactix: Maree Bowden, Sophia Fenwick, Stacey Francis (import), Anna Galvan, Keshia Grant, Ellen Halpenny, Jo Harten (import), Kiley Hikawai, Bessie Manu, Finau Pulu, Anna Thompson, Jo Trip.

Article courtesy of Matt Richens at The Press