7th January 2013

The Celtic Dragons were given top tips by Ex Silver Fern and Pulse player Liana Leota at the Fast Net Grand Prix at the weekend. The gifted Mid Courter moved to England with her husband who has a contract with Sale Sharks until 2014, had nothing but praise for the Welsh side. Leota who now has two children led a training session in the morning and then stayed alongside Coach Melissa Hyndman for the duration of the day, watching the Dragons progress to the play off stages of the tournament.

We conducted our own interview with the New Zealand star, here’s what she had to say:

What is your greatest netball acheivement?
Winning Gold at Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010, we won in overtime v Austrailia. When I came on court we were 5 goals down and we ended up winning by 1!

What are your thoughts on the standard of Netball in the UK? for example the Superleague in comparison to ANZ?
Superleague players are really fit and fantastic athletes, however there is a clear difference in the skill and flare the players have in comparison to ANZ players.

After coaching the Dragons what are your thought on the team?
The session was with the mid court players and I was really impressed with how strong they were. However, they need to believe in and use their strength and speed abilities. From my experience, the key points they need to focus on are not too make it too hard and to focus on the play that is in front of them.

How do you think the Dragons will fare in the Superleague this season after watching some of the Fast Net?
I haven’t watched much yet, I’ll get a good idea later. But the Dragons should have more belief in their ability and not give too much respect to the opposition… their good, but their not that good!

Did any Dragon stand out today?
For me Suzy Drane and Nic James, as a mid cout player myself their speed and skill really impressed me. They are 2 players that stand up when things aren’t going well and people like that can change the game.

We’ve got a lot of new young players coming into the squad this season, what advice would you give them thinking back to your debut?
It’s really important to go with your gut feeling on and off the court, don’t over analyse. Utilise your natural skill and most of all enjoy. Be confident and utilise whatever enhances your inner belief.

What are your plans for 2013?
I hope to play ANZ for the Haier Pulse, we have a goal of making the top 4 this season, if not top 2 this season!

And the future?
I still have big ambitions for my netball career, I’d love to play at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and if not then, the 2015 World Cup for the Silver Ferns. If ANZ isn’t an option, I would definitley look at playing in the UK. I’d love to coach, to give back. It’s great that I can be utilised here in Manchester to help the Celtic Dragons.

Liana has offered to help Wales at their next traning camp at the end of January and said ‘Wales have done a great job coming from 19th to 10th in the world, and the better other countries like Wales become, New Zealand and global netball will benefit.’

The Celtic Dragons would like to extend a big thank you to Liana for all her help and look forward to welcoming her in Cardiff for the Wales camp later in the month.