Target on Steel wider after victory

The critics have backed off.

The veil has been lifted.

And the Steel eventually arrived in Auckland yesterday before their game against the Mystics this afternoon thanks to the help of a shearing gang.

It had been an interesting week, veteran Steel defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit said.

And it all started with a shock 54-36 win against the Mainland Tactix — the so-called favourite — in Invercargill on Sunday.

Nobody really saw that coming. Even Selby-Rickit confessed the criticism leading into the season-opener was justified.

"It was quite understandable, I must say," she said.

"We had perhaps six or seven pre-season games and we got beaten by quite a lot in all of them.

"In those games we’d have patches where we’d lose five or 10 goals.

"But we kept saying if we could keep that to three or four and not 10 or 12 then we could be good because there was some really nice play mixed in with that."

The Steel stretched those glimpses of potential into a match-winning effort. It was quite a statement.

"We are really, really happy with that start but as you know the season goes for 17 weeks. So it is great to have a good start but it means nothing if you can’t put it together for the whole season."

By announcing themselves with the 18-point win, they have also widened the target.

And English import George Fisher had a standout debut for the franchise. The shooter drilled 46 of her 49 attempts.

If teams were not sure how the Steel would go this season then they certainly know now. They will not be the lightweight some expected.

The group has a bit more swagger but Selby-Rickit was quick to point out the Tactix was not at full strength and she expects the Mystics will devised a solid game plan.

"We can’t have the lulls we had previously otherwise they will really punish us because they can score quickly."

Selby-Rickit will have a key role in shutting down the likes of Grace Nweke and Bailey Mes in the shooting circle.

But she will need help and that starts in the midcourt.

Wing defence Renee Savai'inaea had a solid game in her first match for the Steel, and centre Kate Heffernan has an eye for an intercept.

"With such tall timber at the back like that you can’t just have two defenders back there ... so I guess the trick is to stop it before it gets to them."

The Steel had a rough travelling day. The team’s flight out of Invercargill yesterday was cancelled because of fog, so the squad had to pile into a shearing gang’s van — yes — and make their way to Queenstown to catch a flight to Auckland.

What a dag.

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