O'Connell in no doubt about Steel

Jennifer O'Connell
Jennifer O'Connell

 

Jennifer O'Connell holds no ill-feeling.

The goal shoot played second fiddle to South African star Lenize Potgieter this season but is raring to go in Southern Steel colours again next year.

After playing a key role in the 2018 champion team, O'Connell's playing time was reduced to sporadic appearances.

But there was never any question for the 22-year-old.

She is excited to be back for her fourth season representing the South, something she took a lot of pride in.

''I think there was a lot of talk around that, but I had to do what was best for me.

''I guess buying into all that political stuff isn't really what I'm about.

''I think being here is the best thing for me. I'm surrounded by so many great people and I truly believe being here is the best thing for me.''

She will be the only returning shooter next year.

Potgieter is heading to Australia and Te Paea Selby-Rickit will link with the Mainland Tactix.

Trinidad and Tobago's Kalifa McCollin will join O'Connell in the shooting circle, and at least one more shooter will probably be named.

While they were big losses, O'Connell said it opened opportunities for others to step up.

For her, it would be a case of taking those chances.

That was something she did not feel she always did well this year. Having to be adaptable and ready to go at any given moment was not easy.

It was something she had learnt from, though. She felt she had emerged from this season as a better athlete, and a better person.

However, she admitted it was not without its challenges.

''I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been an easy season.

''It's all character-building and you can look at it one of two ways. I'd like to think I looked at it more as a positive than a negative.

''It hurt a bit, but that's just sport.

''I think I've grown in a lot of other areas of my game.

''Looking at the bigger picture has been pretty massive for me this season. Obviously, I wasn't on court, but I feel like I made a lot of good gains in other areas, so I'm just focusing on that.''

She was keeping busy over the off-season and had returned to club netball, as well as playing club basketball for Varsity and training for the Dunedin half-marathon.

That complemented her university schedule, which she would return to full-time next semester in studying for her education degree.

The Steel is expected to announce more signings this morning.

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