Players giving all in spite of uncertainty

Graeme Smaill
Graeme Smaill
A solid core is back and in training for Southern United.
All it needs now is the green light for games to go ahead.

Midfielder Rose Morton will lead a familiar squad in this year’s National Women’s Premiership, which it is hoped will begin on the weekend of November  6-7.

That is contingent on a drop to Alert Level 2 for Auckland by the start of November, though.

The competition will be split into two hubs — the south hub consisting of the four federation-based teams, plus Hamilton Wanderers.

The three Auckland clubs — Eastern Suburbs, Western Springs and Northern Rovers — will play in the north hub.

The Auckland winner will then play the runner-up of the south hub in a preliminary final, the winner to play the south hub’s top-placed team.

If Auckland is not in Level 2 by the deadline date, the whole league will not be played.

It made for an uncertain time for the players, although Southern coach Graeme Smaill praised his players for their attitudes so far.

‘‘We’ve been training three times a week,’’ he said.

‘‘With all that uncertainty, the girls have been fantastic.

‘‘Their commitment and dedication through this uncertain time with when the competition will start, will it start.

‘‘I couldn’t have asked for a better response from them.’’

If it does get to the field, it is a team with plenty of quality and Smaill was happy to get the region’s top players committing to the campaign.

There is plenty of experience in the likes of Renee Bacon, Shontelle Smith, Kelsey Kennard, Kirsty Hayr and Chelsea Whittaker.

Both the midfield and defence should be very solid in that regard.

Several others who have emerged as youngsters in recent years can now move into the experienced bracket too.

Among those are attacking duo Amy Hislop and Ruby Anderson, who have scored 17 goals between them in recent years.

Goalkeeper is the one area where player losses could hit the hardest — both Blair Currie and Tessa Nicol are gone from last year’s squad.

However, first-year student Amy Simmers has previously played for Central and looks to be a useful pick-up.

Women’s Premiership
Southern United squad
Goalkeepers: Amy Simmers, Hayley Julian, Emma Andrew. Defenders: Hannah MacKay-Wright, Kelsey Kennard (vc), Toni Power, Renee Bacon, Saffron Hare, Megan Walker. Midfielders: Rose Morton (c), Kirsty Hayr, Emily Morison, Lena de Ronde, Shontelle Smith. Forwards: Chelsea Whittaker, Margarida Dias, Ruby Anderson, Georgia Kennedy, Juliette Lucas, Amy Hislop.
Wider squad members: Isabel Parry, Anika Itandani, Jemma Wilson, Freya Partridge-Moore.



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