Salter memorial trophy special incentive

Southern Steel shooter Grace Namana takes a shot under the pressure of Mystics defender Phoenix...
Southern Steel shooter Grace Namana takes a shot under the pressure of Mystics defender Phoenix Karaka. Steel goal attack Georgia Heffernan (left) and Mystics defender Catherine Hall watch on. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY
There is always something a little special about playing for Georgie.

The Southern Steel play their first game in Dunedin on Sunday against the Mystics, and while the home side will be hoping to score their second win of the season, there is something bigger at stake.

The Georgina Salter Memorial Trophy is on the line, which always ignites a fire in the belly of players and coaches, including Steel coach Reinga Bloxham, who is Salter’s niece.

Salter, who played for the Silver Ferns, had an illustrious career coaching the Otago Rebels, Southern Blast and Dunedin club, Southern, and Waitaki Girls’ in her hometown, Oamaru.

"That always adds a little bit of spice and a little bit of something extra when you get out there," Bloxham said.

"It is nice to be back where she did the majority of her coaching on those courts with her school team, with her club side, Southern, so I think that makes it a bit more special."

The Steel return to Dunedin for the first time since their preseason Southern Showdown, where the Steel struggled without several players through injury.

Bloxham is excited to show their Dunedin fans they are not the same team they saw back in March.

The Steel lost 61-52 to the Mystics in round two, but the Steel really pressured the defending champions, who never really looked comfortable.

While the visitors are a different team without injured shooter Grace Nweke, the Steel needed to see them as "just another team", Bloxham said.

"Their two shooters have been doing some beautiful things, and I think the thing about the Mystics is they can play with a lot of flair and a lot of speed.

"It’s not going to be easy, but we’re hoping that we can slow that flow down, and then just turn over some ball would be great.

"We are going out there gunning for a great performance."

Consistency has been the biggest challenge for the Steel this season. They stick with teams for three quarters, but have lapses that let teams get away and Bloxham was keen for them to rectify that.

"We have been great in patches . . . but haven’t been great for the whole 60 minutes.

"If we can do that, we will upset quite a number of teams."

The Steel are still searching for a replacement wing attack after Shannon Saunders was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Bloxham said Saunders made a massive difference to the Steel’s lineup, and how they started a game, in being composed and helping her team-mates feel confident in their jobs.

But it was time for others to step up.

"It’s taken us a little bit to adjust to that, but I think the other players around actually have to realise they do have the same capacity to do that.

"For us it’s about making sure everyone on the court is doing their jobs the best that they can for us to be successful."

The Steel will be without shooter Jen O’Connell who is still out with an ankle injury she picked up against the Mystics last time. Ivari Christie is also carrying a knee injury.

ANZ Premiership

Sunday, Dunedin at 4pm

Southern Steel:  Grace Namana, Georgia Heffernan, Ella Southby, Kate Heffernan, Ivari Christie, Renee Savai’inaea, Jeante Strydom, Abby Lawson, Taneisha Fifita. (One to join on game day)

Northern Mystics:  Hannah Glen, Filda Vui, Dani Binks, Peta Toeava, Tayla Earle, Katie Te Ao, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Phoenix Karaka, Carys Stythe, Catherine Hall.