Elite players boost regions

It is not often nowadays sport's elite talent turns out for the small regions.

That will be a feature of the South Island senior netball championships, though.

Five players in next year's Southern Steel squad are representing their centres of origin as they begin their tournament today at the Edgar Centre.

They will take the court along with many of the top club players from around the South.

The tournament signals a return of open representative play, offering a further step between club netball and the elite-level national leagues.

Twins Kate and Georgia Heffernan headline an Eastern Southland team coached by former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins.

Defender Abby Erwood will play for South Otago, while midcourter Kendall McMinn lines up for Invercargill.

Taneisha Fifita takes the court for North Otago, as does southern product Aliyah Dunn - now playing for the Central Pulse - who replaces an injured Jennifer O'Connell.

However, there are plenty of other quality players among the 12 teams.

Players from this year's Southern Blast Beko League team are sprinkled throughout the teams as well.

The two Dunedin teams entered both have two each: Zoey Flockton and Hannah Riddle-Pelchen in the blue side and Sarah Boomer and Julia Law in the gold team.

Annabel Angland and Killarney Morey both add quality to the Upper Clutha side.

There are also several others who have previously played at the Beko League level.

As well as nine teams from the Netball South zone, sides from South Canterbury, North Canterbury and Selwyn will compete.

The tournament begins at noon today and games run all afternoon, the last ones beginning at 6.15pm.

Teams are split into four pools of three and need to finish in the top two to advance.

Quarterfinals are scheduled for 10.45am and noon tomorrow, while the semifinals are set for 2.30pm and 3.45pm. The final is at 1pm on Sunday.

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