Selby-Rickit sisters return to Otaki with Southern Steel - March 2, 2017
by ADAM POULOPOULOS
The Selby-Rickit sisters are expecting a vocal reception from their hometown crowd when they return to Kapiti with the Southern Steel next month.
Te Huinga Reo and Te Paea play for the country's southernmost netball franchise, but grew up and went to school in Otaki.
The town will host an ANZ Premiership pre-season tournament from March 10-12, featuring all six teams of the first domestic competition after the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship split.
The tournament will be held at Nga Purapura, the sports facility of tertiary institution Te Wananga o Raukawa. Each team will play either three or four games during the weekend.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit said she was expecting some good-natured ribbing from friends and family in the stands.
"When you play in front of people that know you, they make fun of you and let you know if you do anything stupid. We're really excited. I'm sure the whole town and the wananga will do really well in organising it."
She said it was important for youngsters to be exposed to top-level netball.
"It's good for kids to see a high level of netball, and to know even though you're from a small town, you can still play at a high level."
Up until mid-February the Steel were without their four Silver Ferns - Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois and Jane Watson.
Te Paea Selby-Rickit said the tournament was less about results and more about re-establishing on-court connections, and prepare a schedule which will see the Steel play 15 games in less than three months.
Te Wananga o Raukawa chief executive Mereana Selby said it was difficult to envision Otaki hosting this tournament before Nga Purapura opened in 2012.
"Its something we wouldn't have imagined in the past. We simply didn't have the facilities to host a tournament like this.
"We've got good facilities, good parking, good food and good hospitality."
The teams arrive on Thursday. The event starts with a powhiri at 3pm, before the teams take part in cultural activities, including taiaha and waiata-a-ringa [action song] sessions run by the university.
The season proper begins with a 'Super Sunday' - all six teams play in three back-to-back games in Hamilton on March 26.
Tickets for the Otaki tournament can be purchased from Nga Purapura.
Friday, March 10
* 1pm: Northern Mystics v Central Pulse.
* 4pm: Southern Steel v Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
* 7pm: Northern Stars v Mainland Tactix.
Saturday, March 11
* Noon: Steel v Pulse
* 2pm: Magic v Stars
* 5pm: Mystics v Tactix
* 7pm: Pulse v Magic
Sunday, March 12
* 10am: Steel v Mystics
* Noon: Magic v Tactix
* 2pm: Pulse v Stars