Courtney Tairi hopes to lead the Southern Steel to a bright
season. Photo by Dianne Manson.
Steel midcourter Courtney Tairi is not planning on
shelving her one-handed pass and she is unlikely to lose the
Australian twang any time soon.
But the 23-year-old Australian-born player's move from Sydney
to Invercargill has already paid dividends. She has not
played in a competitive game for her new franchise yet but
the former New South Wales Swifts player has been added to
the New Zealand accelerant squad.
Tairi, who is of Maori descent, is eligible to play for New
Zealand and Australia and admits some mixed loyalties.
"I usually just go for whoever is not winning, because I feel
sorry for them," Tairi said.
Tairi's mother is from Invercargill, her father from
Cambridge, and the family used to return to New Zealand "all
the time" when she was younger.
So there is a close affinity with New Zealand. Her decision
to accept an invitation to train with the Silver Ferns can
only been seen as positive, although she was coy earlier in
the year when asked about her allegiances.
The decision to leave the Swifts for the Steel had occupied
her thoughts and she had not given much though to whether she
would make herself available for New Zealand.
"It was a very hard decision," she said about the move to the
" You kind of want to stay with the team you are with but the
Steel were developing a new team and had some real young
"I guess they are starting a new era where they are trying to
build the franchise and a team now and carry it through for a
couple of years, so I was excited to be part of that."
It was also an opportunity to get on court more and a chance
to play a different style of netball, she said.
"With the Swifts, I'd play a few then miss a few, so for me I
just want to play netball week-in week-out."
Steel co-coach Natalie Avellino made the initial approach.
When Tairi expressed some interest, the Steel moved quickly,
calling back a week later.
"When the opportunity presented itself, I was really excited
to take it up."
Tairi has family in Invercargill, where she will be based.
She flats with Steel shooter Ashley Smith and is enjoying the
change of pace.
She describes herself as "a homebody and "pretty quiet", life
in Invercargill is not too dull after the bright lights of
Tairi's first objective is to have a strong pre-season and
cement a spot in the midcourt.
With a new coaching team and only three players returning,
the Steel has a lot to absorb as it seeks to improve on last
season's seventh placing.
"Every team in the competition wants to win and we want to
win as badly as anyone else. We've got quite a few
experienced players and some up and coming ones, so I think
it will be a good combination," Tairi said.