Southern Steel netball midcourter Shannon Francois refreshed and keen to avoid upsets against Pulse and Stars - May 24, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
Be warned national netball league rivals, the Southern Steel are refreshed after a 10-day break and keen to avoid tripping up against two of the form teams of the competition.
The staggered nature of the ANZ Premiership draw means that the southerners go from having a mid-season break, to facing two teams in four days.
They play the second placed Central Pulse on Wednesday in Porirua before tackling giant-killers, the Northern Stars on Sunday in Invercargill.
The southerners are unbeaten after nine matches, but according to midcourter Shannon Francois they are wary of dropping games to their rivals, with the Pulse and Stars both looking for their third wins in-a-row.
"I think everyone's excited and pretty eager to get out there on court, there have been quite a few upsets happening and we are keen to not let that happen," Francois said.
"They have both been playing some great netball and I think we have been a bit average the last couple of games, we are pretty keen to turn that around and have a really good team performance."
The Steel enter their round nine fixture against the Pulse after two closer than expected victories over the bottom-placed Tactix and the Magic, but are hoping to benefit from a well earned rest and a chance to fine tune their game.
"It has probably come at quite a good time, we are getting a bit on in the season and everyone's getting a bit tired," she said.
"It kind of gave a good time to refresh, have a bit of time out from netball and it will be good to come in and have two games in a row and just get back into it."
"They [Pulse] are definitely looking to take the game from us, so I think we just really want to put out a good team performance."
Silver Ferns Francois and Gina Crampton have been tweaking their games to make sure that the transition is as seamless as possible no matter who takes the court in the Steel attacking circle, after the team struggled in the recent victory over the Tactix.
"I think as much pressure as we can take off Jhaniele Fowler-Reid the better, she gets smashed under that goal post, so me and Gina have a vital role to make sure she is looked after and given a nice ball in, we are definitely keen on continuing that," Francois said.
"Probably with Jhaniele we don't really practice that much without her, because obviously she is always going to be on court because she is a massive target in there."
"It definitely took us too long when we played the Tactix to adjust."
The Steel's strength and conditioning coach Mike Jacobs has helped the team prepare for their short turnaround ahead of the Stars game at ILT Stadium Southland.
"We have played three games in six days a couple of weeks ago, so it is just something you take in your stride," Francois said.
"So we will just do what we can to recover well and do extra strengthening and pool recovery and all of those extra little things you can do to help improve, so I don't think anyone is really concerned about it at all."
At a glance
What: Pulse vs Steel
When: Wednesday 7:40pm
Where: Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua