Steel’s travel schedule ‘tough, tiring’

One week closer to playing at home and a week more experienced in its new travel plans.

The Southern Steel had its first taste of what is to become a weekly trip to and from Auckland over the next seven weeks.

Its Invercargill players drove a van to Dunedin on Friday.

There they met the Dunedin players, had a practice together, then got on a flight to Auckland.

On Saturday evening they played the Mainland Tactix — a 43-36 loss — in their first ANZ Premiership match post its coronavirus hiatus.

Following the game they completed the return journey that same night.

It made for a long night, although the lure of getting back to their own beds was too much to resist.

While it was not "horrific", head coach Reinga Bloxham admitted the travel could take its toll.

"It’s not easy," she said.

"It is tough and it is tiring.

"But it is what it is, really.

"There’s no point wasting energy on even worrying about it too much.

"We’ve just got to make sure the plans we’ve got in place are right."

The side would tweak some things and would continue to monitor its energy levels as the season progressed and factor that into training plans.

However, there were plenty of positives too.

The service had been "amazing" and she felt the team had been well looked after.

Likewise the plane was bigger than the one the Tactix and Pulse were using, so the Steel players could spread out more.

The biggest motivator was the shift in schedule to allow for home games later in the season.

That meant when the side was tired after seven weeks of travel, it would have its home fans to lift it.

Bloxham felt that was a significant change and something to focus on.

This weekend the Steel plays a double-header against the Northern Mystics and Northern Stars on Saturday and Sunday.

That would add another layer to the trip.

On court, Bloxham had been happy with three and a-half quarters last Saturday.

However, there was a period in the third quarter in which the side was not clinical enough.

She did not feel it had been a major collapse like the side experienced several times last year, but it had been enough to allow the Tactix to open a gap the Steel could not pull in.

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