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Steel finalises 2017 roster - September 8, 2016
 
It’s fair to say 2017 is shaping up as a momentous year for Southern Steel defender Abby Erwood and shooter Jamie Hume.
 
Not only have the pair re-signed with the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored franchise for the inaugural ANZ Elite Netball League, they have their sights firmly set on the World Youth Cup in Botswana in July.
 
Plying their trade at opposite ends of the court, the talented duo are members of the 22-strong NZ U21 squad which will be reduced to a final 12 in January to contest the global event.
 
“Going to Botswana is high on my list of priorities in 2017,” Erwood, 19, said. “Hopefully it all works in my favour and the Steel season will also be a great platform to build towards performing at that tournament.”
 
Hume echoed her comments.
 
“Botswana is a huge aim for me. I learned so much this year being in the Steel environment so it will be great to take that to another level,” she said.
 
Erwood, who was raised in South Otago, was thrilled to earn a contract with the Steel after a successful rookie season which saw her debut in the hotly-contested New Zealand Conference Final.
 
“I’m so excited – I can’t wait. I loved this year so it will be hard to top that,” she said. “I learned so many different things from the players and coaches and just loved the whole environment.”
 
The switch to the ANZ Elite Netball League presented an unknown element to the impending season.
 
“I think it’s going to be a whole new experience for everyone. It’s anyone’s game but I know we’re up for it and ready,” Erwood said.
 
“We’ve retain the bulk of our team and I feel like it might give us a bit of an edge. Other teams will be adjusting to new line-ups and establishing new combinations whereas hopefully we can just hit the ground running.”
 
Hume, originally from Clyde in Central Otago, is yet to earn her first cap for Steel but her performances for the Netball South team which won the Beko Netball League title earned her a Silver Ferns trial and subsequent selection in the NZ A team.
 
“I’m stoked to be back with the Steel. It will be awesome to keep the same culture going because I just love being part of this team. We kept going from strength to strength last year and I think we can carry that into 2017,” she said.
 
“While the season didn’t finish as we had planned, that gives us extra motivation.”
 
While the Steel’s recruitment has provided stability, player movement has been rife in other franchises.
 
“There’s been so many players switching to new teams so it will be cool to go up against the new combinations and exciting for the competition,” Hume said.
 
The pair will be joined in 2017 by captain Wendy Frew, Silver Ferns Shannon Francois, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson, NZ A midcourter Gina Crampton, NZ U21 team-mate Jennifer O’Connell and defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit.
“In a Steel squad of 10, the exciting prospect for Abby, Jamie and Jennifer is being the next cab off the rank to back up the starting seven,” Steel chief executive Lana Winders said.
 
“It’s fantastic for the South to see our own home-grown talent rise through our performance programmes and shine on the elite stage.”


 

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