New-look Steel ready for season opener - April 13, 2021
Fresh, exciting, unpredictable - Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham has plenty of adjectives to choose from ahead of the team’s season opener.
The team launches its ANZ Premiership campaign on home turf against The Good Oil Tactix at ILT Stadium Southland this Sunday and, with five new players in the ranks, there is an element of surprise.
“It does feel like we are on a countdown to something exciting,” Bloxham said.
“Everyone has worked really hard during the pre-season and I think they have prepared themselves as best they can.”
Despite only having her full gamut of players at her disposal since dynamic shooter George Fisher arrived from England three weeks ago, she was satisfied with the team’s progress.
“We’ve spent the past 12 weeks working together but the fact we’ve just had George join us at the last minute makes it feel fresh and new again. The players have just welcomed her in and been really receptive to her presence so it’s fantastic to see that evolve into connections on the court.”
Fisher is set to link up with young sensation Tiana Metuarau who has ventured south from the Te Wananga o Ruakawa Pulse seeking to stamp her mark with regular court time.
Also set to make their Steel debut are new caps Renee Savai’inaea and Ali Wilshier in the midcourt and defender Sarahpheinna Woulf.
Captain Shannon Saunders returns for her 10th season and is joined by Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Kate Heffernan and Taneisha Fifita while Kiana Pelasio earns her first contract after impressing as a replacement player in 2020.
“It feels fresh because there are five new faces and, even though they are reasonably young in age, I feel like they’ve got a lot to offer on the court,” Bloxham said.
“With youth, they are quite fearless and every time they go out there, they are courageous in their actions. I think our Steel fans are going to really enjoy the style and the flair they are injecting into our Steel brand.
“Off the court there is a different vibe to the team. It’s young, it’s fun … and they love their Tik Toks,” Bloxham said.
Tickets for the opening game are on sale now from ILT Stadium Southland or online at www.ticketek.co.nz.