Netball: Ellie Bird helps Tactix soar with career-best form after ending retirement

Athlete done't often come out from retirement to play better than they did before, but that's exactly what's happened to Ellie Bird.  

The Mainland Tactix goal shooter retired last year, but an SOS has seen her take the court again and her form has the side soar to the top of the ANZ Premiership ladder, equal with Central Pulse.

"I'm just a bit carefree," Bird told Newshub. "No pressure... just having fun with the girls, having fun playing sport.

Ellie Bird in action for the Tactix.
Ellie Bird in action for the Tactix. Photo credit: Photosport

"Just not taking life so seriously." 

BIrd, 31, spent six years with the side, but always struggled with confidence on court and was forced to look overseas for a 2023 contract.  

"I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. Very critical of myself, but I'm not so much anymore, which is nice." 

Bird spent last season playing in England, before announcing her retirement, but a pre-season injury to shooter Aliyah Dunn saw Tactix coach Marianna Delaney-Hoshek reach out to her old shooter, who admits she's playing her best netball.  

"She's come in with all the skills there, but in a really good mindset as well," said Delaney-Hoshek. 

The numbers don't lie. Bird is the competition's top goalshooter, as the Christchurch-based side share top spot in the standings.

The situation may cause a selection headache for Delaney-Hoshek when Dunn is ready to take the court.

"Two amazing shooters,"she noted. "They play quite differently, so it gives us different options. 

Bird, who's still working full time as a sustainability assistant on dairy farms, is unsure if she'll be back next year.  

"Maybe," she admitted. "I just need to try to make it work.

"I'm trying not to think so far ahead." 

So far this season, that seems to be working just fine for Bird.