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Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham enjoying chance to blood players with tactical substitution rule - April 12, 2017

Southern Steel netball coach Reinga Bloxham thinks it is great having the new national netball league interchange substitution rule.

The Steel are the only unbeaten team in the ANZ Premiership after picking up their third win-in-a-row with a 72-59 victory over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday.

The side have scored more than 70 goals in each of their games so far this season and have been able to use the new substitution rule to blood some of their promising youngsters, while also giving some of their stars a break.

Squad members Abby Erwood, Jamie Hume and Ngawai Eyles have all taken the court for more national league minutes in three games this season than they played in the ANZ Championship, which wouldn't have been possible under the previous rules.

Netball New Zealand introduced unlimited tactical changes into the new league, which means sides don't have have to have an injury, illness or blood to be able to make a substitution or a player change.

According to Netball NZ's Kate Agnew, the new rule frees up coaches to make more strategic changes without players prentending they are injured in order to be substituted.

The new rule, along with the introduction of extra time if scores are level and a bonus point for losing by five goals or less, was introduced for this year's competition.

The ability to rest stars like Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, Shannon Francois, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson, like they did against the Magic, bodes well for future games, with the likes of Erwood, Hume and Eyles likely to be required as the competition gathers momentum.

The competition heavyweights face double headers in rounds six and 12 of the national league, which is likely to test the depth of their 10-player roster.

"I think just with the way the game is going we weren't going to lose anything by having a wee change up," Bloxham said.

"I think it is nice to keep the opposition guessing and it is really good for the likes of Abby [Erwood] and Jamie [Hume] to get as much game time as possible because at the end of the month we have got a really quick turnaround and a lot of games, so we are going to have to use our whole squad. It is quite nice to have that interchange rule."

The Steel are looking to maintain their unbeaten record this season when they play neighbours the Mainland Tactix in their next game on Wednesday, April 19.

Bloxham was pleased with the performance of her side at both ends of the court against the Magic.

"I thought our defensive pressure was fantastic, we worked as a unit, we all worked really hard we had some really good turnovers," she said.

"I was happy with our attacking end as well. We were able to open up and let rip, it wasn't a big bomb into Jhaniele [Fowler-Reid], there were lots of variety and options of taking it in and feeding it in. Te Paea was working the circle, so it was good."

The team will look to continue their focus of making sure they cherish their opportunities with the ball.

"I think one of the things we do really well is that we look after possession that we get, so I think that is really key and vital for us," she said.

"We are really careful with the ball and we know that anything we do get we make sure we score off it."


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