Southern Steel set for fresh start in 2021
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel have announced an exciting young roster ahead of the 2021 ANZ Premiership season.
Silver Ferns midcourter Shannon Saunders and last season’s co-captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit lead the side, alongside three other returning players Kate Heffernan, Taneisha Fifita and Kiana Pelasio.
England Roses squad member George Fisher will join the side, adding to a youthful shooting end with Pelasio and Tiana Metuarau who has headed south from Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.
The 21-year-old Fisher has 12 Test caps for England, making her debut at the age of 19. In 2018 she played against Jamaica and Uganda, as well as at the Fast5 World Series in Australia and most recently, the 2020 Vitality Nations Cup.
Also new to the Steel are Renee Savai’inaea (from Pulse) as well as 2019 Beko Netball League Player of the Year Ali Wilshier, and up-and-coming talent Sarahpheinna Woulf who has previously played for the Sunshine Coast Lighting.
It’s a new-look Steel line-up with Gina Crampton moving north and Trinidad & Tobago import Kalifa McCollin returning home, while Jen O’Connell and Georgia Heffernan remain sidelined as they continue ACL rehabilitation.
Southern Steel CEO, Lana Winders, said it was tough going into the contracting for the 2021 season after losing two shooters to ACLs and Gina moving north.
“It’s been a recruitment drive like no other. At the shooting end they are new and young but possess strong elite netball experience. Whilst our midcourt welcomes two new midcourt specialists and our defense end will be familiar to Steel fans with the addition of a new third circle defender to complete the team.”
Head coach Reinga Bloxham who is set to go into her fifth season at the helm of the Steel said while there were a lot of changes it was a great opportunity for the young group to show what they can do, and with Metuarau, Savai’inaea, and Fifita, just named into the New Zealand U21 Squad today, it is an exciting prospect.
“It’s really important to be able to keep the core of our team as much as possible, it helps to drive that culture and set those expectations within the team,” Bloxham said.
“Te Huinga has got a wealth of experience and knowledge that she’s able to share with those younger ones while Shannon is such a loyal person to our franchise, so being able to have her experience, calm cool and collected head is going to be key going forward.”
“George is a tall girl who is really solid with what she’s doing - safe with the ball in hand and has a beautiful shot so I think she’s going to add some real value to our side. She’s got the all the qualities we were looking for and she’s going to be awesome.”
“I think we will look quite different in 2021, when you lose two shooters in the season, we were always going to be recruiting really hard to find two shooters to replace Jennifer and Georgia. The fact that we have been able to recruit some really strong shooters who are still up and coming is going to be exciting to see.”
2021 Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit
Sarahpheinna Woulf *
* subject to eligibility criteria