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Frew reflects on Steel heritage

May 31, 2024

Delving into its history, the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel will reflect proudly on its netball journey this Saturday.

With the sport in the throes of celebrating 100 years of netball nationally, the Steel will host the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse at ILT Stadium Southland for its ANZ Premiership heritage round.

Players will don a special heritage uniform for the round 8 encounter, while fans are encouraged to wear their own retro Sting, Rebels, Steel or even club netball gear.

Inside the stadium, the Steel’s traditional feature wall has been revamped to showcase iconic moments.

Former captain Wendy Frew, who chalked up 17 years with the southern franchise, has a vast array of memories and milestones.

“For me, the Sting and Steel have been such a massive part of my life. I really did grow up within the franchise environment from a high school student when I first started to a married mum when I retired,” she said.

After such a dominant era with the Sting claiming seven championships, Frew admits the transition to the Steel following a merge with the Otago Rebels took some adjusting initially.

“Both the Sting and the Rebels were so successful and had their own way and ideas of running a team. We had been fierce rivals for a decade and now had to unite as one so it did feel strange at the start but it really didn't take long for it to gel. We had a great board and a fantastic coach in Robyn Broughton.”

The prospect of competing against Australian teams in the inaugural trans-Tasman format was certainly attractive for the competitive midcourter.

“I absolutely loved the trans-Tasman aspect. For me, there was no better feeling coming up against the best Australian wing attacks. It was a challenge that I truly embraced. And the travel side of it was super cool as we got some really fun trips away with the playing group,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the New Zealand teams didn't win on Australian soil enough but I think ultimately we all benefitted from the high standard of competition we were facing on a regular basis.”

The list of former players to have represented the south is a proverbial who’s who of iconic names, including plenty who have had an impact on the game globally.

“I am grateful to play with so many amazing players over the years and it would be hard to pick who has had the biggest impact. If I had to choose, for me it would be Donna Wilkins. She was the most amazing player and really played some outstanding netball.”

Four coaches have been at the helm of the Steel, each influencing the team in different ways.

“I loved that they had their own style and each one was so different,” Frew said.

“Robyn was the best at moulding a team, coming up with new drills and really put Invercargill on the map for netball.

“Janine (Southby) really set a high standard and added a new dynamic.

“For me, the timing of Noeline (Taurua) was perfect. I was near the end of my career and she challenged me in refreshing ways and made me look outside the square.

“And Reinga has been both my team-mate and my coach and we’ve always worked well together. She has been super successful and winning two titles under her leadership was the most amazing feeling.”

Frew didn’t hesitate when asked if she preferred the modern era or the good old days.

“The good old days, 100 percent. That’s an easy one for me to answer. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about the modern game and the professionalism it brings, but there was something truly special in the previous era.”

Hailed as the netball capital, parochial southern fans have been a consistent force spurring the team to success.

“They have always been so loyal, engaging, passionate and just incredible. As a franchise, we are blessed to have the best.”

And when it comes to highlights?

“There’s just too many to pick from. I just loved my time in the franchise,” Frew said.

“Our premiership win in 2018 over the Pulse does stand out. It was my last ever game at that level, we were down by 11 goals at one stage and still down by 7 with about three minutes left on the clock so to comeback from that and win a premiership title was huge. We showed ‘head, heart, humble’ which were our team values that year.”

Can the 2024 Steel team add another victory against the Pulse to the history books? Tickets for tomorrow’s game are available from ILT Stadium Southland or online via


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