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Steel focus on development - January 30th, 2019

With an eye to the future, the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel has initiated several development opportunities within its high performance structure.

Head coach Reinga Bloxham said the franchise was committed to providing clear pathways for both players and coaches from within the Netball South Zone.

“Absolutely we focus on the task at hand when it comes to the present season but we also need to future-proof for the sustainability of our franchise,” she said.

“It’s always exciting to be able to bring new people into our environment as they all have something valuable to contribute in their own way.

“They provide a new energy and enthusiasm and as a coach you just want to keep feeding off that.”

On the coaching front, Invercargill’s Jess Huia has joined the fray as an apprentice coach.

“Jess has got some great new ideas and drills which the players are finding valuable. It’s a different voice and she does have a different perspective on things. She’s going to add real value,” Bloxham said.

“It’s a chance for another person to be immersed in our team and learn the ropes.”

Huia’s recent coaching assignments include head coaching roles with the Aotearoa Maori Netball secondary school team which competed in Australia last year and the Invercargill U19 team.

Former assistant coach Lauren Piebenga has returned in a specialist coaching role, enabling her to also dedicate her knowledge as head coach of the Southern Blast team to compete in the Beko Netball League.

“It’s fantastic for her to lead that campaign,” Bloxham said.

Former Steel captain Wendy Frew will also contribute her expertise where possible.

“We can’t completely let her go. She has a wealth of knowledge we had to retain in some way and I’m really excited to work with her in a new capacity.”

In the playing ranks, official training partners for the 2019 season are defender Taneisha Fifita and attackers Georgia Heffernan and Jess Allen.

The Steel has also recruited three apprentice players in Southland Girls’ High School talents Kate Hartley and Holly Munro, and tenacious defender Laura Overton. The trio experience high performance aspects of the Steel environment and attend various training sessions.

“Our focus is on development and building strength within our Zone and making sure those pathways are really clear so they can experience the high performance world and know what to expect,” Bloxham said.

“It’s about having that succession plan and recognising these players as our potential Steel stars of the future.”

In its first official hitout, the Steel will compete in a pre-season tournament against the Tactix in Ashburton this weekend.

“It’s kind of crazy to think that we are already there and about to take the court again,” Bloxham said.

“It will be great to see what we look like out on court. The players have been training hard and you think you’re tracking alright but until you see it all in action it’s hard to gauge.”


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