Netball: Early test of depth for Steel

Robyn Broughton
Robyn Broughton
The Steel's depth will be tested during the pre-season tournament in Queenstown this weekend, with Silver Ferns shooter Daneka Wipiiti ruled out after having her tonsils removed.

Wipiiti was expected to shoulder the lion's share of the scoring responsibility for the Steel but will miss the tournament.

And with dual netball and basketball international Donna Wilkins still getting back to full fitness after having a baby late last year, the Steel's resources in the shooting circle would undergo a thorough examination, coach Robyn Broughton said.

"It is the first hit-out for the likes of Adine [Wilson] and Donna coming back into top competition," Broughton said.

Both took last season off to start a family.

"But the rest are fine and have been training and working hard. [Wilkins] looked really good. She is a natural shot and at training she was putting them in from everywhere.

"But I can't expect her, after having had a baby, to be able to play five games in a row," Broughton said. "Obviously, we are going to have to use all of our players."

It was a good chance for back-up shooters Leah Shoard and Julianna Naoupu to log some court time and work on their combination.

"They need to step up anyway," Broughton said, adding the Steel had a long campaign ahead of it and the pair would need to be match-hardened.

The Steel opens the pre-season tournament with a tough match against the inaugural ANZ Championship winner, the New South Wales Swifts, today at 10am before renewing its rivalry with the Northern Mystics at 6.30pm.

Tomorrow the Steel plays the Australian Institute of Sport in the afternoon and the Swifts again in the evening, then rounds out the tournament with a game against the Pulse on Sunday.

Broughton said the side had goals it wants to achieve and would not just focus on the scoreboard.

"We're more focused on team combinations and quality play. We need to find out where our strengths and weaknesses are and put them into our game plan. So you can't afford to be worrying about just the score."

Broughton was disappointed the Canterbury Tactix had decided to pull out, but believed the pre-season tournament would be of high quality and provide her side with a stern test.

Tournament draw

10am: Steel v Swifts
1pm: Australian Institute of Sport v Pulse
4.30pm: Australian Institute of Sport v Swifts
6.30pm: Steel v Mystics

9.30am: Australian Institute of Sport v Mystics
11.30am: Swifts v Pulse
1.30pm: Australian Institute of Sport v Steel
4.00pm: Pulse v Mystics
6.30pm: Steel v Swifts

9.45am: Swifts v Mystics
11.30am: Pulse v Steel All games at the Queenstown Events Centre

Southern Steel

Adine Wilson (c), Donna Wilkins, Julianna Naoupu, Leah Shoard, Wendy Telfer, Erika Burgess, Liana Barrett-Chase, Sheryl Scanlan, Katrina Grant, Megan Hutton, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit.



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