Steely determination for second win in row

Kate Heffernan in action for the Southern Steel earlier this season.PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY...
Kate Heffernan in action for the Southern Steel earlier this season.PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
In some ways tomorrow should hold plenty of familiarity for Kate Heffernan.

She will be back on the court she played on countless times through her school years.

She may also be back in the position she spent all those matches playing.

Despite that, it will be just the fourth ANZ Premiership match the 21-year-old has played at the Edgar Centre — although she did sit on the bench for an additional two as an 18-year-old.

She wore the wing defence bib in all of those as well.

But this season she has spent the majority of her time back at her schoolgirl position of centre.

While she returned to wing defence last weekend, as the Steel looked to mix things up, she has thrived since making the switch.

Once a promising St Hilda’s Collegiate star, she has now firmly cemented herself in the mix among New Zealand’s best.

She will undoubtedly be key as the Steel looks to slow down Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic centre Sam Winders, who is also a Silver Fern, tomorrow afternoon.

Heffernan was enjoying being back at centre, but admitted it was very different at the higher level.

"It’s such a fast-paced game now," she said.

"It is a lot of back and forward down the court.

"But also defensive structures are so strong now — all the teams we’re playing have strong defensive ends so I obviously need to be more disciplined and smarter with the ball.

"That’s something I’ve learned off Shannon [Saunders] and Gina [Crampton] the last couple of years.

"It’s something I’ve really had to focus on; in school netball I played with a lot more freedom and I was sort of just passing the ball in, so at this level being disciplined is a real focus for me.

"Working the ball into the shooter and being 100% sure on each pass is really important."

Heffernan enjoyed both positions and the added versatility would be useful.

She had been involved in the national set-up and played for New Zealand A, where the majority of midcourters could slide between multiple positions.

The Silver Ferns remained a long-term goal and while reaching that goal was on the radar, it was not something she was immediately concerned about.

Breaking the Steel’s record of following every win with a loss this season was more of an immediate issue.

The side played well in a win against the Northern Mystics last week.

While the Magic has just one win to its name, it boasts a powerful line-up.

Alongside Winders in the midcourt, it has Australian star shooter Caitlin Bassett and Temalisi Fakahokotau among its squad.

Heffernan said it was not a team to underestimate, and she was looking forwards to trying to string together two wins on her home court.

"We’re definitely all aware of that win-loss pattern we’re doing, the plan is definitely to stop it this weekend.

"I think it is just the consistency we’re struggling with — we are so strong when we’re playing well.

The players were focusing on finding that consistency and making sure they were clear about their game plan, she said.

"It will be exciting to be at home in the weekend and stop that win-lose streak and get two wins in a row."

The match begins at 4.15pm and follows the Southern Blast’s National Netball League match against Waikato Bay of Plenty at 2.05pm.

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