Steel eager to get on court and do its thing

Steel goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit claims the ball ahead of Tactix defender Temalisi...
Steel goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit claims the ball ahead of Tactix defender Temalisi Fakahokotau during the ANZ Premiership elimination final in Invercargill on Wednesday night. Photo: Diane Manson/Michael Bradley Photography
One more big game.

That is what faces the Southern Steel in Palmerston North tomorrow.

A win over the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership final would result in a dramatic title defence.

Of course, it has all come a lot tougher this year.

Notably, it is coming off an intense elimination final win against the Mainland Tactix on Wednesday night.

That leaves it with a short turnaround to face the form team of this year’s competition,  which is well-rested after a 10-day break.

Last time the side made the trek to Pulse country it came away with a 71-40 loss, the biggest in its history.

However, that seems a long time ago now.

This time the side will travel slightly further north as Wellington’s TSB Arena was pre-booked by the World of Wearable Arts.

The location makes little difference to the situation for the Steel team, however.

"I think one of the things the girls have talked about is we’re coming in as underdogs and that’s a good position to be in," coach Reinga Bloxham said.

"Nobody outside our own bubble has any expectation on us, but we have huge expectations on ourselves.

"We haven’t even thought about where we’re playing. It’s just another netball court and is another game, another opportunity for us to go out there and give it a really good crack.

"We just want to get out there and do our thing."

Recovery has been the team’s focus since Wednesday, with an emphasis put on rest.

Bloxham felt mentally the team would cope fine with the short turnaround, but overcoming physical fatigue would be crucial.

"The biggest thing is the sleep.

"I know after a game, especially Wednesday night, a lot of them struggled to get to sleep. They were awake until the small hours of the morning.

"Then we had a team training and pool and recovery on Thursday.

"So it’s probably the sleep that’s the biggest thing at the moment, but they all know they need to prioritise that."

The team had put a big emphasis on examining the Pulse’s recent games over the past two days.

Having focused purely on the Tactix up until Wednesday, it was something of a crash course.

Bloxham said key features late in the season had been the re-emergence of experienced shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

She has moved back into the starting line-up late in the season, breaking up the teenage duo of Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau  which had plenty of success early in the season.

The Tactix had also added variety in its midcourt, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan at times coming on at wing attack allowing Whitney Souness to move to centre.

Despite that, the side could take some confidence from its win when the teams met in Invercargill last month.

Bloxham knew a final was a clean slate, although the side was going in knowing it could get the job done.

"I think we’ve got every chance.

"I’m very confident that if all 10 players and all four management staff do our job properly we can come away with that win.

"So we’re not going there just to participate, we’re going there to take this, so yes very confident."


Steel v Pulse
Palm North, tomorrow, 4.15pm 

Steel: Wendy Frew (c), Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois, Kate Heffernan, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jennifer O’Connell, Olivia Bates, Courtney Elliott, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Abby Erwood.

Pulse: Katrina Grant (c), Sulu Fitzpatrick, Renee Savai’inaea, Karin Burger, Whitney Souness, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, Claire Kersten, Tiana Metuarau, Aliyah Dunn, Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

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