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Strong presence of NZ umpires at Commonwealth Games

It was a last-minute scramble for Angela Armstrong-Lush after her elevation from the reserves list to fully fledged umpire at this month’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.

Following a late withdrawal from the international umpiring contingent for the Games, Armstrong-Lush’s inclusion extends New Zealand’s representation to four for the Netball competition.

She will join Jono Bredin, Kristie Simpson and Lisa McPhail as part of the 13-strong umpiring pool for one of Netball’s pinnacle events.

Something of an old hand, the experienced Bredin (Netball South), will be lining up for his third Commonwealth Games while Simpson (Netball South), McPhail (Netball Northern) and Armstrong-Lush (Netball Central) are excited to be attending their first.

For Palmerston North teacher Armstrong-Lush, she is determined to enjoy the opportunity that has presented.

``It’s an honour and a privilege,’’ she said. ``It’s a pinnacle event, it only happens every four years….I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet but I know it’s going to be pretty mind-blowing but exciting too.’’

Being involved in the recent Taini Jamison Trophy as well as Central Pulse pre-season training games and local club competition has helped Armstrong-Lush with her preparation.

The Netball Quad Series in England and South Africa in January has provided invaluable preparation for Bredin who has continued to fit in an as many practise games as possible in the run-up to the Games.

``I was obviously thrilled when I found out and to be able to go back for my third Commonwealth Games is pretty special,’’ he said.

``I’m looking forward to getting to experience the styles of play that the countries bring and a very competitive environment.’’

Getting appointed to the Commonwealth Games has been on Simpson’s bucket list since she attained IUA (International Umpires’ Award) status.

``When I first found out I was going to the Commonwealth Games I was terribly excited,’’ she said. ``What I’m really looking forward to is being able to umpire different teams, see different styles of netball and just being able to be engrossed in what is the Commonwealth Games.

``I have been preparing by doing lots of pre-season games, doing as much umpiring as possible and keeping on top of fitness, vision and everything that we usually do.’’

McPhail has taken a slightly different route from the others, named in the 2018 National Umpire Squad after spending six years working in the UK where she also represented New Zealand umpiring internationally.

``When I first found out I was going to the Commonwealth Games, I was extremely excited. It’s one of those pinnacle events on the netball calendar and it’s something I’m extremely proud to be a part of,’’ she said.

``I’m looking forward to being able to experience the different styles of netball that the teams attending will bring and also being a part of a bigger multi-sport event.

``I have been preparing by doing lots of things on and off the court, including a lot of pre-season practise games while also looking at my mental strength, my stability and the fitness and gym work that goes with that.’’