Steel add more firepower to established squad
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel have retained the bulk of their squad and added international calibre midcourter Sam Winders to the mix for the 2023 season.
After nine years with the Splice Construction Magic, Winders, 27, ventures south to link with the Steel for next year’s ANZ Premiership and joins a formidable midcourt featuring Silver Ferns Shannon Saunders and Kate Heffernan along with the talented Renee Savai’inaea.
Head coach Reinga Bloxham expected intense competition to earn bibs.
“Sam is a player that I consider to have high standards and great professional habits. I’m hoping she will bring that intensity and drive to our training environment to raise the bar for others. She will bring an edge to our midcourt that provides competition. Everyone will need to bring their best to fight for those bibs. She is always up for a challenge and she will provide our midcourt versatility,” she said.
“When you get too comfortable you can sometimes relax and in a high performance environment you should feel challenged and feel a little tension constantly. So, I think there will be great competition in the midcourt.
”Winders, who has 47 Silver Ferns Tests to her credit, is the only addition to the Steel squad. England international George Fisher spearheads the attack with shooters Saviour Tui and Georgia Heffernan, while Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Kate Burley and Sarahpheinna Woulf provide the defensive prowess.
Bloxham paid tribute to hardworking midcourter Ali Wilshier who has been a strong contributor to the team over the past two seasons.
“Recruitment is a time when some of the toughest decisions have to be made as a coach,” Bloxham said.
“What Ali did bring to our Steel whanau was her best self. She was an absolute beast in the gym. She never backed down to one of our strength and conditioning coach Mikey’s horrible sessions – in fact, she would rise to the challenge to show him it could be done.”
2023 Steel team:
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit