Steel announces pre-season games for Oamaru and Dunedin - February 24, 2017
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel will play its next pre-season games on home turf.
Hosted by the North Otago Netball Centre, the squad heads to Oamaru this weekend for training and community activities, while next weekend’s schedule features two games against ANZ Premiership opponent the Mainland Tactix in Dunedin.
Coach Reinga Bloxham was eager for more match play now the Steel’s four Silver Ferns – Shannon Francois, Gina Crampton, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson – were back from international duties.
“We’ve just got our squad all back together and now we need to get that match play under our belts. It’s massively important that we start getting our structures organised,” she said.
“We talked about how nice it is to have everyone back and sometimes it feels quite easy but we need to make sure we are nailing everything, fine-tuning things and just changing it up slightly. We don’t just want to be what we were last year – we want to be even better.
“For us it’s really important to get everyone out on court … results are not my focus, it’s about making sure we are gelling together and trying some things out.
“The progress being made has been fantastic. The girls have been working extremely hard in the gym and on the track. There’s some sore bodies but they know in a few weeks’ time it’s all going to pay off.”
After training in Oamaru this Saturday, the Steel will host a skills session for local Year 9 to 13 players from 4pm to 6pm. On Sunday, the Steel takes on the South team at 10am before hosting a netball festival for Year 1 to 8 players from 1pm to 3pm. Bloxham and assistant coach Lauren Piebenga will also run a workshop for local coaches. All sessions at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre are open to the public with free admission.
“The more people we can get there the merrier. We know our job is to connect with the community and I’m more than happy for people to come and see what we’re going. It’s not a top secret mission.
The girls love having people along at training and I really enjoy when they ask questions and get excited about what we’re doing. I just think ‘oh yeah, this is what it’s all about’,” Bloxham said.
“It’s always nice going into our Centres because they just love having the players there and the presence of the Steel. Our players are really engaging with the community and it will just be nice for them to spend some time together.”
Tactix coach Sue Hawkins said her squad was tracking well as it builds towards the opening round of the ANZ Premiership on March 26.
“With a new-look attack end and changes up the back end, new ideas and blending of players has been a focus,” she said.
“I’m aiming to expose all players to top quality netball for these two matches against the Steel. I want them to get the experience as a team but also individually as well.”
Both coaches rated the South Island derby highly. The public can watch the action at the Edgar Centre for $2.
“We have a terrible history when it comes to playing the Tactix in pre-season – I don’t think we’ve won one yet! The Tactix are renowned for being really hard trainers, they always coming in looking fit and I know last year they absolutely wiped us out in the preseason stuff,” Bloxham said.
Hawkins said: “We all look forward to the strong competition between the two South Island teams - competition is always a healthy challenge when both teams step out on the court.
“As head coach I’m interested in the individual and team performance on and off the court more than the result. What our team will take away will be some positive work-ons going forward.”
Steel’s pre-season match schedule is:
Sunday, Feb 26 at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre, Oamaru (free admission)
10am: Steel v South
Saturday, Mar 4 at the Edgar Centre, Dunedin ($2 entry)
11am: South v Mainland
2pm: Steel v Tactix
Sunday, Mar 5 at the Edgar Centre, Dunedin ($2 entry)
11am: Steel v Tactix
2pm: South v Mainland