O'Connell hungry for top-level success

Yesterday's match against the Silver Ferns has only made Jennifer O'Connell that much more hungry to pull on the black dress.

The Southern Steel goal shoot got a taste of netball's next level at the Edgar Centre, alongside the rest of the team, as the Steel played the Ferns in a training match.

Standing at 1.93m and entering her second year at ANZ Premiership level at just 20years old, O'Connell is a player with the potential to make the jump to that level herself.

There were still several steps before then, but O'Connell said her ultimate goal remained to represent New Zealand.

''I think it makes you a lot more hungry to get there,'' she said of the game.

''To get a taste of it makes you want to get in that environment.''

She described the chance to play against the Silver Ferns as ''pretty unreal'' and noted that it was a step up.

''I think it's quite hard, when you're on the other team and you're trying to beef yourself up and be as good as them.

''It's quite hard, obviously, they're another level.

''But it gives you an idea of where you need to be to get there.''

Both injury and the presence of Jhaniele Fowler-Reid saw her limited in game time last season.

However, with Fowler-Reid gone it was likely she would take a bigger role in this year's team.

That prospect was something she was embracing.

''I think that just provides a massive opportunity and one that I'm really excited about, so I guess Jhaniele who?

''For me personally, just the chance to grow as a player and hopefully be competitive out in the big league, so I'm excited for it.''

That was something sure to keep O'Connell busy, as she juggled her netball career with her primary school teaching degree - for which she studied full-time.

The team would play its first public preseason matches next week, against the Australian-champion Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Those matches would be played on Thursday night in Dunedin and Friday in Invercargill.

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