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Henry making the most of both careers

Published: 11:20AM Wednesday April 27, 2005 Source: ONE Sport

Assessing other people is part of everyday life for Joline Henry but self-analysis of her own performances on the sports field provided the breakthrough in taking her netball career to another level.

Currently in the middle of studying for an honours degree in social psychology which will be followed by a Masters, Henry's netball career over the last 18 months has mirrored her glowing scholastic achievements.

"Once I put my mind to something and start something I like to see it through regardless of whether I enjoy the process or not,'' Henry says.

"At times I can be a very stubborn person and I don't like to be beaten whether it be completing something or whatever. And if it's worth doing, it's worth doing bloody well.''

That attitude is glaringly apparent in Henry's change in fortune over the past two seasons, the result of her play reaching a consistently high standard.

An outstanding national league season in 2004 for Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic led to Henry's inclusion in the Silver Ferns, the athletic defender carrying on her good form with a commanding presence in the opening rounds of this year's National Bank Cup competition. But it has been a long time coming for the youthful veteran.

Since making her debut for the Western Flyers in the inaugural national league in 1998 as a 15-year-old Wanganui schoolgirl, Henry was seen as a player of rare promise. Five years ago she made the successful switch from shooter to defender and was touted by seasoned experts as the next Wai Taumaunu, the highly respected former Silver Ferns captain and hard-nosed defender.

Henry, 22, who is in to her fifth year with the Magic, made her way through the grades of New Zealand under-21 and New Zealand A teams before stalling.

"I came to the realisation that these opportunities weren't going to be around forever and if I was actually serious about achieving my lifetime goal which was to become a Silver Fern, then I needed to get out there and put the hard yards in, whether it was fitness, mentally, whatever it took'' she said.

"I realised it wasn't just going to fall in my lap, I had to go out there and work for it. It had been a dream for a long, long time and I just suddenly realised that there were opportunities given to me that could make that dream a reality and I wasn't taking them.''

Henry forms half of a dynamic Magic in-circle defensive pairing with fellow rising star Casey Williams. At 22 and 19 years respectively, the youthful combination is headed for long service duties with the Silver Ferns.

In terms of her development at the elite level, Henry described herself as "a wee nipper with a long way to go.''

Those thoughts are echoed by Magic coach Noeline Taurua, who feels Henry is still very much in the learning phase of the goal defence role. But in saying that, she feels Henry is such a natural talent that she also rates her very highly as a goal attack.

"She's advanced hugely in the last two years in her development mainly because of her fitness,'' Taurua said. "I think at the moment she is just scraping what her real potential is.

"There is heaps of room for further development from her. Although she has been around for a very long time - since secondary school at a high level - she's also still very young.''