The countdown is on for injured Southern Steel players ahead of final - July 21, 2017
by LOGAN SAVORY
Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham will give two key players up until 24 hours before the national netball league final before ruling them in or out.
Steel captain Wendy Frew and Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit are in a race against time to overcome injuries and front in next Wednesday night's ANZ Premiership final in Invercargill.
Frew and Selby-Rickit were involved in a crash in Christchurch last week where the team van, with six players on board, was hit at an intersection and flipped on its side.
As a result four players were taken to hospital.
Shannon Francois and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid returned to the court in Monday night's win over the Central Pulse while an injury cloud still hovers over Frew and Selby-Rickit.
Abby Erwood and Jamie Hume have done a good job to date covering their absence.
Bloxham said they were keen to give the injured pair as much time as possible.
"Twenty-four hours out from start time is the official time. So I'm prepared to wait as long as I can to give them the best chance and the best opportunity to get on the court," she said.
"For us it is really a day by day basis and it is just a matter of tracking and monitoring them really closely.
"They are improving every day so I'm really positive that they will be part of the team."
Teams are required to provide an official team list 24 hours before start time and it is at that point Bloxham will need to know if Frew and Selby-Rickit will be able to play or not.
The 10 days between the Steel's last round-robin fixture and the grand final was initially viewed as a hindrance by the Steel. But the extra days have now provided the two key players some valuable extra days to get themselves fit.
"Given everything that has happened in the past week, I think the next seven days is going to be very timely in that we have longer to rest and recover our injured players," Bloxham said.
The long break between the round-robin fixture to the grand final is something the Steel have had one eye on for some time, highlighting the meticulous nature of their planning.
"We've had two other situations this season where we've had 10 days between games so we've played out two different scenarios and wanted to see which one the girls came out of the best.
"So it is something we planned for and looked at a couple of months ago."
Bloxham said they would bring in other players from the zone to play a training game this weekend to ensure they remained match hardened.
"We've got our final team training this weekend so on Saturday evening there will be some game play in that, which is something we have been doing in the last month or so but we'll just amp that up a little bit more knowing the other teams are going to be playing in that elimination final."
Bloxham said it has been a balancing act all season to ensure they worked the Steel players hard enough but didn't over cook them with the workload.