Bloxham appointed Steel head coach - October 5, 2016
Reinga Bloxham has been appointed head coach of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel as the team prepares to embark on a new era.
After three years as assistant coach of the franchise, Bloxham is excited to take the helm for the inaugural season of the ANZ Netball Elite League.
“It’s definitely been a goal and more so in the last couple of years. The pathway has become clearer and I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity,” she said.
“The Steel brand itself has a great history and feel about it. I’m excited to continue that but also a little apprehensive at times because I think about the amazing people who I’m following, their legacies and what they’ve brought to this team.
“But I am myself and I have new things to offer and a different way of doing things. I’m looking forward to jumping into it.”
Bloxham’s biggest fans as she embraces the challenge ahead will undoubtedly be children Te Kannu, 16, and Maraea, 11.
“They are really excited. I think it’s been hard for them to keep it quiet the last couple of days. They’ve been greeting me each day with ‘good morning head coach of the Southern Steel’ so they are absolutely pumped about it,” she said.
“They’ve always enjoyed the netball environment and been there right from when they were in a car seat really.”
Bloxham is no stranger to the demands of the franchise environment from a player’s perspective, representing one of Steel’s predecessors the seven-time championship-winning Southern Sting for five seasons – 1998-99, 2001-2002 and 2004.
“It’s an absolute privilege to coach this franchise. Being home-grown, I know what the people here are all about and they always support you so I think it’s really nice for me to feel like I have that behind me to take forward. We look after our own here and try to develop our own which is fantastic,” she said.
Steel was unbeaten in the round robin stages to clinch the ANZ Championship minor premiership and earn a semi-finals berth last season, establishing a solid platform for continued success.
“Last year was really good for us as a team. The girls grew and also I grew as a coach so it laid a really good foundation for us and now we’re ready to take it to the next level,” Bloxham said.
Re-signing the bulk of the squad reflected the performance culture developed. The 10-strong 2017 roster features Silver Ferns Shannon Francois, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jane Watson and Gina Crampton, Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, former Silver Ferns Wendy Frew and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and New Zealand U21 players Abby Erwood, Jamie Hume and Jennifer O’Connell.
“It was massively important to retain our core squad and also the young players from within our zone that we get to develop,” Bloxham said.
The switch to a domestic format for the ANZ Netball Elite League was a positive one.
“It’s going to be awesome. Taking it back to a domestic league, we will be able to really develop our kiwi style of the game,” she said.
“The competition is very unpredictable given the amount of off-season movement. The players have spread out and gone to different areas which will make it really competitive and exciting. There’s new playing combinations being established and new coaches coming into the mix.
“There’s an increased number of games, shorter turnarounds and other elements which are going to give this competition more of an edge.”