Southern Steel netball captain Wendy Frew is keen to get off to a strong start despite two early away fixtures - March 23, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
Twelve months ago a late comeback gave the Southern Steel a 58-57 first round win over the Northern Mystics in the 2016 trans-Tasman netball league opener.
The victory gave the southerners some much needed confidence and kick started their season, as their 2016 ANZ Championship campaign gathered momentum and they eventually finished the regular season unbeaten as minor premiers.
Fast forward to the new-look 2017 ANZ Premiership and Southern Steel captain Wendy Frew is keen for the southern netball franchise to have a strong start, despite playing their first two matches away from their parochial home fans.
"It is a long comp so you need to start well and get some confidence for that team morale, so we will be looking to do that on Sunday and in the first few games," she said.
"It is important to get off to a good start, when you get that win you always enjoy training that next week, so hopefully we can start really strong and put in some good performances early."
"I think you want to get the home crowd behind you nice and early, but for us, having two games away is just a chance for the fans to watch us on TV and then come and watch the real deal in a few weeks."
Frew can't wait for the netball season to begin, after an unbeaten pre-season campaign.
"Pre-season's been tough, it has been really good, but really tough, the girls have worked extremely hard," she said.
"So I think everyone's really excited that the season has finally come around and it is time to take the court and put all the hard work we have put into pre-season, into the games."
The revamped competition featuring six-New Zealand teams includes Super Sundays and double headers, which will test the depth of the squads, with the entire 10-player Steel squad roster likely to take the court at some stage during the season.
"I think it is refreshing, it is exciting, it is a really good opportunity to get those New Zealand derbies back," she said.
"We are playing the same teams three times so it is going to challenge the coaches and senior players, making sure that we are changing game plans and making sure of having a bit of variety in our game, so I think it is exciting and Super Sundays are going to be awesome having all six teams in one venue for a weekend it is going to be a great spectacle."
"Right through pre-season everyone's been getting really good court time and I think it is important that we are developing those fringe starting seven players so they are getting opportunities, I am sure with the Super Sundays and double headers there will be a lot of chances for those players to get more experience on the court, which is only going to make them better players."
The Southern Steel face the new Northern Stars team in the first game of the competition on Sunday in Hamilton as part of the Super Sunday.
Steel defender Te Huinga Selby-Rickit is the only injury concern with an ankle injury, otherwise the Steel should be at full strength for the encounter.
The Stars squad includes experienced defender Leana de Bruin, Kayla Cullen and Fijian shooter Afa Rusivakula in their ranks.
"We watched them play in Otaki, they are a really good lineup, obviously they haven't had an ANZ game yet," Frew said.
"It was kind of hard to get a really good gauge because they were changing their lineup around a bit, but they are certainly going to be really strong and we are going to have to bring our A-game for the first game of the season to get the win."
At a glance
What: Southern Steel vs Northern Stars
When: Sunday 2pm