Steel took ‘one for the team’: Taurua

Noeline Taurua on the Southern Steel ... ‘‘The fatigue level was always going to be higher and...
Noeline Taurua on the Southern Steel ... ‘‘The fatigue level was always going to be higher and the load was going to be higher.’’PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The Southern Steel has "taken one for the team", Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said this week.

"Because of their scheduling and their travel load, they have had more to contend with way more than all the other franchises."

As a result it had taken a toll on the players, with injuries now impacting the team’s performance.

Steel shooters Georgia Heffernan and Jennifer O’Connell have both suffered anterior cruciate ligament injuries, and fellow shoot Kalifa McCollin has sprained her ankle.

"The fatigue level was always going to be higher and the load was going to be higher.

"Even though their team hasn’t been probably performing to the level that everyone is accustomed to or expected, the load they’ve had to endure over the six or seven weeks has played a part in performance."

When the ANZ was being organised in week two of Alert Level 4, the determination of Netball New Zealand and franchises was just to get the ANZ Premiership up and running again, she said.

"The troopers like Curly [Steel coach Reinga Bloxham] said, and all the coaches said, they will do whatever they can as long as they could get the competition out on court.

"If anything they have taken one for the team and they knew they were disadvantaged and if anything they’ve actually helped us all out, and it’s unfortunate they’ve had the injuries in the shooting end which has impacted hugely on their ability to perform."

Despite that they had still been able to get close to top-of-the-ladder Pulse and also threaten the other top teams, she said.

"This is the crazy thing about it — they’ve actually been in cooee — very close to all the top teams, but they just haven’t been able to close it."

Taurua was looking forward to returning to Invercargill for the premiership finals on August 23.

As well as catching up friends made while she was coach of Steel, she was hoping to also manage a good feed of Bluff oysters and enjoy some top-level netball.

"It’s the grand finale of the ANZ competition.

"It’s a celebration in some respects — not only for those ones who have made the grand final but also a celebration of us at netball and netball in New Zealand at an elite level."

Despite international borders still being closed, preparations were still in place for the Silver Fern team to be ready for duties as soon as games could be organised.

"I think we should be grateful that, irrelevant of who we play, we will be out there. Our intention is we do play Australia and if we can’t we will have plan A, plan B and plan C sorted so there will be Silver Ferns out on court and the development team underneath."

The opposition would ultimately be determined by border restrictions and the Covid pandemic.

"We are determined we will take the court in some shape or form."

Expectation around player selection into the team remained the same pre-Covid, she said.

"Standards would still be high and you earn the fern.

"We’ve got to keep working at it and there will be no excuses, basically."

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