Southern Steel netball captain Wendy Frew re-signs with team - August 5, 2016
by SCOTT DONALDSON
Captain Wendy Frew will embark on her 15th elite netball campaign with the Southern Steel in 2017.
The tenacious midcourter plays an integral role with the franchise, leading by example both on and off the court, and her signature is an important one for the southern franchise.
"I'm excited to pull on the Steel dress again," she said.
"Every year it's a real honour to play for the franchise and the southern community."
The Southland product's leadership was vital for the vastly improved team in 2016.
Unbeaten throughout the regular season to claim the minor premiership in the final season of the trans-Tasman netball league, the Steel's most successful season was only marred by two narrow losses in the finals series, which saw them eliminated in the semifinals against the Queensland Firebirds.
"It's still pretty depressing that we couldn't go all the way because I truly felt our team had the goods to do it," Frew said.
"But it also adds a lot of fire to the belly. Next season can't come soon enough."
She felt the team would be a force to be reckoned with if the core was retained.
"I really feel we can continue to build on that momentum," she said.
"The performance culture we've created is fantastic and predominantly driven by the players – we just need to stick together to make the championship a reality next year."
The home support of the southern locals was a throwback to the successful days of the Sting, which saw bumper crowds attend netball matches at Invercargill's Stadium Southland and Dunedin's Edgar Centre.
"The support we've had this year has been unbelievable and it's a great feeling to play for our whole Steel family," she said.
Mum to Archie, 3, and Indie, 8 months, Frew was used to juggling the demands of professional sport with family life.
"I couldn't do it without (husband) Trent and my wider family – they really support me on this journey," she said.
"It's always hard to leave the kiddies but it also makes me even more motivated to train and play to my full potential and make it worth the sacrifice."
"Every year you have to work harder and I challenge myself to come back in better shape than I was before."
She was looking forward to seeing the newly-formed New Zealand Elite Netball League evolve.
"I will miss playing the Aussies as it was always a great gauge as to how you were performing, but it will also be great to get back to our own competition. I really love those local derbies," Frew said.
"Playing each team three times will add another dynamic. We're really going to have to mix it up and make sure we aren't predictable."
Steel chief executive Lana Winders said Frew was a crucial addition to the playing roster.
"Wendy is the kind of player you build a team around. She epitomises the values and work ethic we expect from all of our players and her leadership is invaluable," she said.
Frew joins Jamaican international shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid as starting players from the 2016 season who have recently re-signed with the team as they search for success in 2017.
Teams have until August 31 to complete their rosters for next season, with the Steel still yet to confirm a coach to replace the Sunshine Coast bound Noeline Taurua.