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The team has a poor record at the tournament and coach Rachael Carson was certainly not ducking that history.
The team is not likely to move from the bottom of the pecking order to the top in the next week.
But there are smaller goals to aim for and it all starts with showing a little more hunger.
"We need to be much more competitive than what we have been previously," Carson said.
"They've come last every year for the last five or six years.
"But we want to be more competitive and really have a crack at some of the other provinces or regions that are the same size as us.
"There is no reason we can't compete against them."
To do that, Carson will have to squeeze every drop of talent she can from her squad.
Captain Deborah Yung will set the tone. She is a key defender and has experience at national level in the junior ranks.
She is a calm player and good communicator.
Midfielder Finola O'Boyle shapes as the main playmaker in the middle of the park. Her distribution skills and game knowledge will be a big asset. She also has a high work rate.
Up front, Christchurch-based striker Ellie Duncan has been trusted with putting the ball in the net - that has long been an issue for Southern teams.
"We hope that she will be able to crack a couple in the net."
Southern played Canterbury in a warm-up match in Oamaru last month and lost 5-1.
While the margin was comfortable and Canterbury was too skilful for Southern, there were some promising signs.
"We missed quite a few opportunities and gave the ball away too softly," Carson said.
But she was happy with the structure of her side and Southern did create plenty of opportunities.
The format for the under-21 tournament is nice and clean this year. It is just a straight round-robin with no semifinals or final.
There are eight teams, so each side will play seven games and the team with the most points at the end will be crowned champion. Canterbury and Auckland shape as the favourites.
Southern men under-21 coach Dave Ross did not respond to an interview request. But he has some good talent in his side led by Malachi Buschl, who made his debut for the Black Sticks last year.
Ward brothers Finn and Jordan shape as key players as well.
National under-21 tournament
Southern women: Olivia Allan, Tegan Buchanan, Anna Boult, Kate Boswell, Finola O’Boyle, Katie Hunt, Celeste Lane, Louisa Collerton, Yzzy Maindonald, Meg Vogel, Emma Ryan, Isobella Ng, Cassandra Dawson, Nicole Strawbridge, Taylor Duffy, Deborah Yung, Brittany Calder, Molly Sheffeild, Kristyn Rayner, Mia Nevill.
Southern men: Jakob Annison, Balthezar Ruscoe, Johnathan Bates, Devanand Bhikha, Malachi Buschl, Kailin Dayal, Callum Dempster, Michael Fu, William Hayes,
Zachary Mason, Maxwell Rasmussen, Dylan Thomas, Craig Turner, Hamish van Dyk, Finn Ward, Jordan Ward, Henry Will, Joseph Yoon.