Midcourter Elias Shadrock's heady mix of physicality and intelligence is proving a potent combination for Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic as they continue their late charge to the trans-Tasman netball league play-offs.
Winless after the opening four rounds, the Magic have won their last eight matches and are seeking a ninth victory against defending champions Queensland Firebirds in Hamilton on Monday.
Shadrock, a sporadic bench player for the Magic in previous seasons, has played a huge role since forcing her way into the starting line-up this year.
The 21-year-old was dropped from the Magic roster last season, but the time off working on her game has paid undoubted dividends.
She has slotted smoothly into the difficult position of wing defence, where her work rate, vision and thinking game have added another dimension to the Magic midcourt.
Coach Noeline Taurua has never doubted Shadrock's potential and says it's extremely satisfying to see her achieving on that promise.
"She's got an old head on young shoulders, strategically. She knows the set-ups, and she forces a lot of opposition error by cutting down the angles," Taurua said.
"She's a worker, and she's got a great skill level getting around to disrupt the attacking flow."
Shadrock's ability to shut down the opposing wing attack in driving to the circle edge has played a big part in setting up turnovers for class Magic defenders Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin.
She also provides a valuable link in transition to attack, and is always looking for ways to improve her game.
"There's so many tiny things I can do better - running the pockets harder, working on my angles so I can see the ball and the player," she told NZ Newswire.
"There's a lot of finer stuff like that to improve on."
Shadrock will have her work cut out against the Firebirds, where she'll be up against on of Australia's top midcourters in wing attack Lauren Nourse.
"She's amazing - it's going to be a big challenge."