Steel’s priority to enjoy week

You would not blame the Southern Steel for finding it hard to get back up to play another tournament next week.

But that is what it faces.

Just one week after its astounding comeback win in the ANZ Premiership final over the Central Pulse, it now has its Super Club crown to defend.

Bringing together eight teams from six countries, the tournament is something of a champions league although notably lacks an Australian Super Netball team.

The side begins its campaign against South Africa’s Gauteng Jaguars tomorrow, the first of five games in six days.

It plays its other two pool games on Monday and Tuesday, before having Wednesday off. The semifinals and final are the following two days.

That means a big workload and so the Steel is taking an extended squad.

Georgia Heffernan, Taneisha Fifita, Jess Allan and Kendall McMinn will all join the side.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit is being rested due to having had a high workload with the Silver Ferns this year.

It is a big week, although coach Reinga Bloxham admits taking in the same ruthless mindset might be a challenge.

‘‘To be honest, it’s going to be quite difficult to get up and motivated after the last week we had,’’ she said.

‘‘Last year our approach was just going in there and enjoying it and having a celebration week, making sure we spend a bit of quality time together as a team and finish the season.

‘‘And just celebrating everything that’s happened during the season, because it could be the last time you as a team are all together.

‘‘So I think we’ll go in with that approach, of making sure we enjoy the week.’’

She said it was a great opportunity for the players coming in and gave them a chance to show they could play at that level. Indeed, last year Olivia Bates and Dani Gray came into the Steel late in the season and were subsequently signed for this year based on their efforts.

‘‘There’s always that potential. I think that’s the beauty about this Super Club.  Those players get a bit more court time and they are exposed to yourself and also to other people who might interested in looking at players.’’

Frew would not travel with the team initially in order get some extra rest, but would link with it midway through.

McMinn would also join the team late, needing to attend a class on Monday.

Using the full squad would be key as Bloxham said the memory of Frew’s Achilles injury in last year’s final was still at the front of their minds.

There is a shorter turnaround for next season — this year started later due to the Commonwealth Games — so a serious injury could potentially impact that.

The Steel will face the Jaguars, Singapore’s Sneakers and the Mainland Tactix in its pool.

The other pool consists of the Central Pulse, the New South Wales Institute of Sport, Scotland’s UWS Sirens and Fiji’s Marama Vou.

 

Super Club
Southern Steel draw

Sunday 8.30: v Gauteng Jaguars
Monday 6.40: v Sneakers
Tuesday 8.30: v Mainland Tactix
Semifinals: Thursday 6.40pm, 8.30pm
Final: Friday 8.30pm

Steel: Wendy Frew (c), Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois, Kate Heffernan, Kendall McMinn, Jennifer O’Connell, Olivia Bates, Georgia Heffernan, Jess Allan, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Courtney Elliott, Abby Erwood, Taneisha Fifita.

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