Jamaica's Althea Byfield (left) in action against England at the National Indoor Centre last year. - file
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, CMC
It is now confirmed that the outstanding Jamaican defender Althea Byfield will play for Central Pulse in netball's 2009 season of the ANZ Championship.
New Central Pulse netball coach Yvette McCausland-Durie confirmed Monday that star signings Byfield and Paula Griffin would play for the franchise when the new season starts in April.
Byfield, 26, is a key player in the set-up of World No. 4 Jamaica.
McCausland-Durie, who takes over after the sudden sacking of former coach Kate Carpenter one year into her three-year contract, named a 12-member roster for Central Pulse. "I am really pleased with the mix of youth and experience we have been able to secure," McCausland-Durie said.
The cash-strapped franchise failed to win any of their 13 games in the ANZ Championship's inaugural year and they are bolstering their squad to improve their standing.
"We have a number of players from the central region, as well as our first Silver Fern to be signed to the Pulse and the experienced Jamaican defender Althea Byfield," she said.
The squad has some players from last year's roster, including midcourters Cushla Lichtwark and Neesha Weiser, and shooter Jamilah Gupwell.
Several New Zealand Under-21 players are also in the squad — shooters Larissa Harrison and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble, defender Hannah Broederlow, midcourt player Camilla Lees.
Byfield, a former basketball standout for Texas A&M University in US Collegiate action, will become the second Jamaican in the ANZ, after the young shooter Romelda Aiken.
Playing for Queensland Firebirds, Aiken jointly won the 2008 ANZ Championship Most Valuable Player award.
The Central Pulse squad has started conditioning programmes and will commence full-team training in January.
The Pulse's first match next season is against the Southern Steel in Invercargill on April 4.
The ANZ Championship, inaugurated last year, is the elite netball competition that pulls international players from around the world to play with five teams from Australia and five teams from New Zealand.
SQUAD: Shooters - Paula Griffin, Jamilah Gupwell, Larissa Harrison, Te Amo Amaru-Tibble.
Midcourt - Cushla Lichtwark, Neesha Weiser, Camilla Lees, Ngarama Milner.
Defenders - Althea Byfield, Hannah Broederlow, Bessie Manu, Katie King.