Local trio completes Steel’s 2019 roster
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel have completed their 2019 ANZ Premiership squad with a trio of southern talent.
Defender Abby Erwood returns for her fourth season in the Steel ranks, midcourter Kate Heffernan features after an impressive debut season as a replacement player this year and Kendall McMinn has earned her first ANZ Premiership contract.
They join shooters Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jennifer O’Connell and Lenize Potgieter, midcourters Gina Crampton and Shannon Francois and defenders Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Courtney Elliott in the quest to defend the championship title won last month.
Replacing a legend the calibre of retiring captain Wendy Frew was never going to be easy, but the Steel has no doubt identified some key similarities in capable midcourters Heffernan and McMinn – tenacity, determination and resilience amongst their attributes.
After previous stints as a training partner and replacement player, McMinn’s promotion into the ANZ Premiership was testament to her resolve.
“I’m over the moon that all of the training and hard work has finally paid off,” she said.
“I was still hungry for it. And it’s even more special being a Southland girl and representing home. I hope this shows others that it’s not out of reach for anyone.”
She was anticipating strong competition in the hunt for bibs as the two-time defending champions seek an unrivalled trifecta of titles.
“It’s great that everyone will be pushing each other - that’s what you want in a team,” McMinn said.
“Every season is a new season. In any sport it doesn’t matter what happened last season or even in the last game, it’s all about the present and being the best you can in that game at that moment.”
Frew was amongst the first to offer her congratulations to McMinn. The pair’s sporting careers have intertwined since their respective days as students at Verdon College.
“She’s a legend of the game so there are definitely big shoes to fill there. Wendy’s more like an older sister to me and everyone wants to be like their big sister don’t they. She’s definitely someone that I’ve always looked up to and admired.”
First coached by Reinga Bloxham as a 14-year-old in the Lois Muir Challenge, McMinn was eager to continue under her tutelage.
“To have the core of players stay with the Steel is pretty amazing and says a lot about the culture. Every time I’ve come into the team it’s felt natural and there’s such a good bond in the team already so that makes it less intimidating,” she said.
Bloxham said she was excited about the potential the trio possessed.
“It’s great to be able to complete the roster with three local players from our zone. That really reinforces the strength of our homegrown talent and the pathways established,” she said.
“We’ve got some really good options as to who might step up into that bib held by Wendy for so long.
“It’s really nice to be able to retain Abby in the ranks, while Kate’s pathway in netball is just beginning so it will be exciting to see what she can do with more time in our environment.
“Kendall has had a really solid Beko season and was one of their key performers so has really earned her place.”