Netball: Physio gets unlikely call-up for Steel

Jennt Ferguson
Jennt Ferguson
Not since The Sixth Sense has there been a more surprising script.
While some people figured out Bruce Willis was actually a ghost halfway through the Hollywood film, no-one could have predicted Steel physiotherapist Jenny Ferguson would be named in the Steel side for its crucial match against the Swifts in Invercargill today.

Ferguson has replaced the player she has been kept busy patching up, Silver Ferns defender

Sheryl Scanlan, who injured her calf during the 59-48 loss to the Fever in Perth last month.

She had hoped to be fit for today's game and those with an eye for conspiracy might wonder if Ferguson has pulled off a Survivor-style blindside.

‘‘Nothing is going on,'' Ferguson said, laughing off lighthearted suggestions of skulduggery. ‘‘I'm just making up the numbers for the warm-up, really.''

Ferguson does not expect to step on to the court unless it is to attend to an injured player and her call-up, if you can call it that, is not the beginning of a comeback.

Ferguson last played top-level netball when she captained the Sting to victory in the now defunct National Bank Cup two years ago. She took last season off to travel and keeps herself fit playing for Invercargill club side Rata, and on Thursday nights provides some opposition for the Steel during its training session.

If called on to play she pledged to do her best.  As far as Scanlan's injury is concerned, she ‘‘is progressing nicely''.

‘‘She has just starting running again but she is not ready to play. We're taking it nice and slow to make sure she is 100%.''

Ferguson is not the first surprise addition to the Steel squad. Last year television presenter Tania Dalton took a break from the microphone to answer the Steel's SOS when Megan Dehn succumbed to an ankle injury.

Whether the Steel wins or loses to the Swifts, its play-off prospects will remain in limbo until the Firebirds-Fever match in Perth on Monday night has been resolved.

With just goal percentage separating the Steel (fourth) and the Firebirds (fifth) after 13 rounds of the ANZ Championship, the battle to join the Magic, Vixens and Thunderbirds in the semifinals could hardly be closer.

Both sides have 14 points from seven wins. The Steel has scored 607 goals and conceded 597 (101.68%), while the Firebirds have scored 646 and conceded 638 (101.25%).

Should both sides win their last round-robin games, the team with the superior goal percentage will move on to the play-offs. If they are still equal after the goal percentage, the Firebirds would take the last berth, courtesy of their win over the Steel in Brisbane last month but that is unlikely, with goal percentage calculated to two decimal places.

The Steel plays first, which means the Firebirds will have the luxury of knowing exactly by how many goals they need to beat the Fever.

Arguably, the Steel has the easier of the two games. The Swifts have had a horrid run this season. The defending champions have lost their last eight matches, but Steel coach Robyn Broughton is wary of a backlash and believes the Swifts are much better than their results suggest.

‘‘We'll have to withstand the pressure and not put too much pressure on ourselves. We can't be constantly thinking about how much we need to win by and just focus on getting the win first,'' she said.

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