Netball: Frew is Steel to the core

Southern Steel captain Wendy Frew will play her 100th ANZ Championship game for the franchise on...
Southern Steel captain Wendy Frew will play her 100th ANZ Championship game for the franchise on Sunday. Photo by Dianne Manson.

Many things have changed at the Southern Steel over the years, but there is one person who has been through just about all of it.

Captain Wendy Frew will bring up her 100th ANZ Championship match for the franchise when she runs out against the Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday, having debuted for the side when the competition began in 2008.

She played for the Southern Sting in the National Bank Cup from 2001-2007.

Barring one season out of the game, while she was pregnant with son Archie, in 2012, Frew has been with the Steel every step of the way.

She took over captaincy of the side last year and, despite being on the wrong side of 30 (she turns 32 in October), her performance on the court shows no sign of slowing down.

That is even more remarkable given the fact Frew, who has also been a member of the New Zealand White Sox softball squad, gave birth to her second child, daughter Indie, in November last year.

The Steel can guarantee top spot in the New Zealand conference with a win on Sunday and equal its record of most wins in a season with four matches, plus the playoffs, still to play.

After securing just three wins last year, Frew was enjoying the ride in what she said could well be her last season of professional netball.

"When you're getting to the age I am, you take it year by year.

"I'd like to have one more crack and have a go at the competition next year.

"I'm really enjoying my netball at the moment and I'm happy with the performances I'm putting out there.

"So watch this space. I'll see what happens next year with the new competition and all of those things.''

Frew will become the first player to reach 100 matches for the side.

The next most-capped player, Shannon Francois, has played 60 games.

The 31-year-old will become the 23rd player to reach the milestone when she takes to the court on Sunday, and the 10th to achieve the feat with one franchise.

Of all her matches across nearly eight seasons, there was one which stood out, Frew said.

"Every time I put the Steel dress on, for me, it's an honour, and I feel really privileged about having played 99 games.

"But I think getting that first win on Australian soil [against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide] in 2014 was pretty special, and making the semifinals [in 2010], as well.''

There have been many tough opponents over the years, but Frew, who has played all three midcourt roles for the Steel, singled out a fellow centurion from the Vixens as the hardest opponent she has come up against.

"There's so many challenging teams out there, but Madi Browne [now Madison Robinson] is a fantastic wing attack.

"It's always good to give yourself a benchmark when you play against her.''

Frew did not have many regrets in her career but there was no shying away from the disappointment that she was not able to add to her solitary test cap, against Australia in 2008.

She suited up many times for the national side in 2008 and 2009, and was part of the squad which won the inaugural World Netball Series in England in the latter year.

However, she came off the bench only once, and that was something which did not sit well with her.

"It is definitely a big regret.

"Being in the squad for a couple of years and getting that chance to run out there for New Zealand, it was a special feeling getting that court time.

"I would have loved more games. But looking back, I felt like I did all I could and in the last few years I haven't been in the picture.

"It's just something you've got to accept and move on from.''

 


Wendy Frew
At a glance

Age: 31

Teams: Southern Steel 2008-2011, 2013-2016; Southland Sting 2001-2007

Positions: WD, WA, CANZ

Championship matches: 99


 

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