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Steel captain seeks winning feeling - May 12, 2023

Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit is on the hunt.

With just two games remaining in the 2023 ANZ Premiership, the defensive stalwart is desperate to capture the winning feeling which has eluded the Steel so far this season.

While loathe to jinx it, she admits to pondering what it will feel like. After all, it’s a tough gig to front up to the post-game television cameras after a streak of 13 losses.

“I know I will be very, very happy – it will be a feeling like we’ve won the whole thing to be honest because the season has been tough. I almost don’t want to talk about it because I want that feeling so badly. We’ll be working hard to make it happen,” she said.

Despite languishing at bottom of the league’s points table, growth in the Steel ranks had been strong, demonstrated by recent narrow losses.

“Everyone always says you get more learnings out of losing than winning so we have definitely had a whole lot of education this year. It’s always character building and we will remember it and be able to refer to this year,” Selby-Rickit said.

“People have definitely grown as a result. What has been great is that everyone has had a lot of time on court. It’s going to be really good in the future because people have that experience now – they’ve endured a lot of pressure, a lot of ups and downs – and we all will be better for it.”

Selby-Rickit said the team’s culture could not be faulted.

“If I think about a season like this, I should be saying ‘the team’s imploding, the girls all hate each other’ but that isn’t the case at all. You would think after one or two losses things would go downhill but it just hasn’t. We’re still tight and love hanging out.

“That’s one of the best things about being with the Steel – a lot of us are away from our families so you have to create your own within the team environment. We do rely on each other a lot because you can feel quite isolated without your family. I’m really happy with that aspect and how the team has come together.

“Even though it’s been a tough season, you do feel sad about it nearing the end because you connect as a team and really look forward to seeing each other and spending time together.”

Two home games at ILT Stadium Southland now loom for the determined Southlanders – against the Robinhood Stars on Monday night followed by the Avis Magic next Sunday.

“I love playing at home with our fans. I’m a defender so I love that I can hear them screaming and I just love that hum in the crowd and that feeling where you just have to turn one over. We want to be in that position where we get the crowd going, get them behind us and they just get stuck into the other team. I can’t wait for that,” Selby-Rickit said.

Opposition teams should be wary of the impact the Steel could have on the overall championship ladder.

“We can make some pretty crazy shifts in that table and it’s always teams like us heading into the final stage of a competition that can upset others. It’s a very freeing place to be,” Selby-Rickit said.

“We also have that expectation on ourselves to win. We don’t want to finish the season with no wins. We have two more games so we want two wins and we know we can do it.

“We’ve got to the point where we are close, whereas in the beginning we were losing by a lot. Now we’re competitive and we want to take that next step and win.”

She was under no illusions as to what it will take to finally taste victory.

“It’s a cliché but a 60-minute performance. In fact, not even 60 minutes because we’ve seen in our other games when we are close that we have our ups and downs, so it’s about doing what it takes when it matters most. It’s ugly winning where you know you haven’t played your best but you’ll scrap, you’ll dive for the ball if you need to.

“We’ve just got to be patient and do whatever it takes to score off our own. We need to be very greedy and possessive with the ball and play that old Steel netball where we pass it round as long as it takes to get the shot.”

When it comes to the crunch, the Steel must remember how to win.

“It’s a shame because I feel like if this group had won a game earlier, we would have won a lot more leading up to this point because you get that feeling and you learn how to win and it almost becomes a habit. That doesn’t mean we can’t win these next two and enjoy that feeling because we are desperate and we really want this.”


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