Steel’s defensive duo back for 2017 - August 14, 2016
Steel’s formidable defensive duo Jane Watson and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit will be back guarding the goal post for the southern franchise next season.
The signatures of Watson and Selby-Rickit complete the re-signing of the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored Steel’s starting-seven line-up. They are joined by captain Wendy Frew, midcourters Shannon Francois and Gina Crampton and shooters Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid to contest New Zealand’s ANZ Elite League.
Watson, who is currently teaching at home in Canterbury, said returning to Steel wasn’t a tough decision.
“It was pretty easy. I do still miss home but for now I know the Steel environment is what’s best for me,” she said.
“As a group we’ve been together a while and that’s helped us develop as a team and it will be great to have that consistency going into next year.”
In its most successful season to date, the Steel remained unbeaten to secure the ANZ Championship minor premiership before losing a gutsy semi-final in Brisbane by just three goals to eventual champions, the Queensland Firebirds.
“Going into teaching I’ve just had to switch off. You can’t really dwell on that – you just have to put it behind you and move forward,” Watson said.
Her own sublime performances not only earned her the E Hayes Player of the Year title, but a coveted place at the Silver Fern trials which start in Auckland tomorrow (Monday, August 15).
Former Silver Fern Selby-Rickit is highly-regarded for her netball nous and has 99 ANZ Championship caps to her credit. 2017 will mark her 11th season playing at the elite level, with seven of those years representing the south with both the Steel and its predecessor the Sting.
After a four-year hiatus playing for the Central Pulse, Selby-Rickit returned to the Steel this season and has thrived in the environment, forming a formidable combination with Watson.
“It was awesome playing with Jane. I’m probably the hard one in the combination to play with. I’m very quiet when I play so I rely heavily on just knowing what each other is doing without speaking. Jane adapted to that really well,” she said.
“I’m excited for next year – I know we’ve only just finished but I can’t wait for it all to begin again.
“I love Invercargill and I love where it is – you’re at the bottom of New Zealand so no-one really disturbs you. Everyone is really supportive and it’s more like a family down there.”
The return to respective domestic leagues in New Zealand and Australia would ultimately benefit the international game.
“Having our own championship can be awesome and I reckon it will be. Hopefully it will also return our trans-Tasman encounters back to being unpredictable like they used to be. Before the ANZ Championship it was more of a surprise and you didn’t know what the other team was going to bring. Now they almost know us too well.”
Steel chief executive Lana Winders said the duo rounded out the team’s starting seven in “empathic fashion”.
“This season they’ve both stepped up and really blossomed and disrupted the day of some of the world’s best shooters which was a lot of fun to watch. We’re thrilled to have them back.”