Fifita credits those in front for success

Taneisha Fifita. Photo: Supplied
Taneisha Fifita. Photo: Supplied
The Southern Steel has to shut down one of the ANZ Premiership’s best attacks tomorrow.

Luckily, it has one of New Zealand’s best young and in-form defenders to do that.

Taneisha Fifita is hardly a new face to Steel fans.

She made her debut for the team in 2018 as a year 12 pupil at Waitaki Girls’ High School.

For the next year or two she remained one of the region’s most exciting prospects.

But that is a tag she has now shed.

The 20-year-old is in her second season as a fully contracted player.

She was among the team’s best during its win over the Central Pulse in Invercargill last weekend.

In that sense you could say she has arrived.

Her presence should give the side a confidence boost as it travels to Auckland.

It faces the unbeaten Northern Stars, who boast a lethal duo in former Steel wing attack Gina Crampton and goal shooter Maia Wilson.

Fifita was well-aware of the challenge that duo would bring.

She was beginning to feel more comfortable on the sport’s biggest stage.

However, she admitted there was an element of still adjusting, although at times she was feeling comfortable.

"People expect you to be there now that it’s been two years of being a contracted player,’’ she said.

"I feel like sometimes there can pressure and sometimes it can be quite chill.’’

Having moved south from Oamaru last year, Fifita said Invercargill was now feeling like home.

Her family had moved with her and that had been significant in her settling in.

She has made an impression on home court as well.

Last week, Fifita picked up four intercepts and was a constant disruption to the Pulse attack.

However, she was quick to deflect the praise.

She said it had been a collective defensive effort and having Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Renee Savai’inaea in front of her had been significant.

It was just the third competition game that trio has played together.

That was a similar trend throughout the court.

Indeed, despite her being in just her second contracted season, only three players have been at the Steel longer than Fifita — Selby-Rickit, Shannon Saunders and Kate Heffernan

Fifita said the team was clicking well.

"I think all the girls, we all get along together off court.

"I think that sometimes helps, too, when you get on the court, the connections are already there.’’

The Stars have proven an equally useful unit.

Alongside the Silver Ferns duo in the attacking end, the Stars have conceded the fewest goals of all the teams in this year’s Premiership.

Veteran Anna Harrison has been notable among that group.

Former Steel shooter and Clyde product Jamie Hume has slotted into the starting goal attack spot in the absence of injured Silver Fern Monica Falkner.

Hume will bring up her 50th ANZ Premiership match, 10 of which she played with the Steel.

The game begins at 4.15pm.

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