Steel roster taking shape for 2024 season
Two international calibre players will make a welcome return to the ranks of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel next season.
Shooter George Fisher and midcourter Shannon Saunders will add significant attacking firepower for the southern franchise as it strives for 2024 ANZ Premiership glory.
Saunders, who welcomed her first child earlier this year, will combine her talents with dynamic Silver Ferns midcourter Kate Heffernan, the formidable Renee Savai’inaea and emerging talent Ivari Christie.
In the shooting stakes, Fisher will be determined to showcase her skills after a knee injury forced her to miss this season’s campaign. She will reignite her exciting partnership with Georgia Heffernan, while Grace Namana earns her first full contract after debuting as a replacement player previously.
Head coach Reinga Bloxham, who is currently in Cardiff preparing for next month’s Netball World Cup with the Wales national team, believes the Steel line-up presents as strong contenders.
“Our focus is to make sure we have a team which can not only compete but get back in to finals contention,” she said.
“Contracting always provides opportunities and challenges. Finding the right balance of players, personalities, talent and work ethic is tricky. I’m always grateful for the interest we attract to our franchise which steams around environment, but it’s always great to see those who continue to stay or return.”
She was excited to see Fisher and Heffernan have the chance to cement their combination which has previously showed strong potential.
“It’s awesome to have George and Georgia returning. Georgia has gained so much experience from this season and can take those learnings into next. George is working hard on her rehab and progressing well so all going well, she will be ready to get into preseason with the team next year,” Bloxham said.
“Grace is returning after being away for a year. She has experience in our environment and is eager to keep learning and growing her game.”
She described the midcourt as “strong and reliable”.
“Kate just continues to go from strength to strength building her repertoire and Shannon will add that stability, control and experience she possesses. Ivari gained so much experience this season and her opportunities on court have given her more depth even though she is still developing.”
The Steel paid tribute to departing players Sam Winders, Saviour Tui, Eseta Autagavaia, Jess Allan and Kate Burley for their huge efforts in the deep south.
The Steel is in the process of finalising its defensive roster, which will be announced soon.
Southern Steel 2024 team
(defenders still to be confirmed):