The Southern Steel is one of three New Zealand teams
playing in this weekend's transtasman challenge tournament in
It is an opportunity for teams to test themselves before the
ANZ Championship starts late next month.
''We are pretty excited about the opportunity. The girls are
looking forward to it,'' Steel coach Janine Southby said.
''It's a great opportunity for us to get a really good gauge
of where we are at.
''We've been training for the last five weeks so this is a
timely opportunity to see if our game plan is going to work.
''It will also give our combinations a chance to get
established and for some of the younger girls to get an
opportunity to play against the Australians and to be umpired
by Australian umpires.''
It will be the first opportunity for the Southern Steel's
import, Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler, to get a feel for
the transtasman competition.
One of the big problems faced by New Zealand teams in the ANZ
championship is getting used to the different interpretations
taken by the Australian umpires.
''To be honest, I don't think any of us have cracked it
yet,'' Southby said.
The Steel is taking its complete squad of 14 players for the
six games it will play in Melbourne. The Steel normally takes
a squad of 11 players when it travels across the Tasman.
''The board agreed to let the team take all 14 members of the
squad across to Melbourne,'' Southby said.
''There are three younger players in the group that haven't
played at this level. It gives us the opportunity to expose
them to that level of netball so they can experience what is
The teams taking part are the Queensland Firebirds, Adelaide
Thunderbirds, West Coast Fever, New South Wales Swifts,
Southern Steel, Canterbury Tactix, Northern Mystics and the
The Southern Steel's six games at the weekend will be against
the five Australian franchises and the Mystics.
The board recognised the importance of the pre-season
tournament for the development of the Southern Steel.
''There are only three New Zealand franchises going across,''
''It certainly isn't a cheap exercise.
''Its a great opportunity to expose our girls to the whole
exercise and get used to the transtasman travel of flying in
and flying out for a game.''
The Victorian Government has funded the tournament with a
$A30,000 ($NZ40,000) grant.