Irene van Dyk celebrates another win in the ANZ Championship
Photo: Getty Images
Former Australian netball captain Liz Ellis says Irene van Dyk and her Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic teammates can become the first New Zealand team to win the ANZ Championship.
The Magic still have to overcome their Kiwi rivals, the Northern Mystics, in the preliminary final on Monday night but Ellis has backed the Magic reach the grand final and upset the favored Melbourne Vixens in the decider.
"I know it's un-Australian, but I think they can [win it]. I'm not going for them - oh God, no - but I'm a commentator. I've got to be impartial," Ellis told BigPond Sports Weekend on Sunday.
"I looked at the minor semi-final between the Magic and the Thunderbirds and the Thunderbirds at the time were on a nine-game winning streak.
"I thought at the time that the second grand final team would come from that semi-final, so I think the Magic will get over the top of the Mystics on (Monday) night... Irene van Dyk looks like she wants this year to be her year."
The Vixens will host the grand final next weekend after beating the Mystics in the major semi-final. The honour comes with a significant historical advantage - no visiting team has won the ANZ Championship decider in four previous attempts.
"The Vixens have to go into this match thinking they're a pretty good chance. Of course, history suggests that they'll win but history doesn't pull on the skirts and play with them," Ellis said.
"They've got a bit of work to do and you always want to be the first team to make a little bit of history to maybe win an away grand final.
"[But] the crowd in Melbourne is phenomenal. They've got the Vixens home for three one-goal wins this year just on the back of some great energy... I think the home-court advantage will really help the Vixens."
However, Ellis backed the Magic to upset the Vixens and give van Dyk, a giant of international netball, the opportunity to end her career on a high note.
"She's a brilliant athlete who could play as long as she wants to. She comes back year after year. She turned 40 during this season and to celebrate, that weekend she shot 41 goals," Ellis said.
"She's said she wants to play through until the 2015 world championships but I've just got a little sneaking suspicion that if she were to win with the Magic next weekend, she might call it quits."