The Southern Steel have reflected a commitment to local talent by recruiting two training partners for the 2024 ANZ Premiership season.
Shooter Ella Southby and defender Emilie Nicholson have earned contracts with the franchise and will join the ranks when the team embark on their preseason campaign in January.
Coach Reinga Bloxham said the pair would add plenty of "youthful enthusiasm" to the Steel environment.
"They have both come through our pathway so it’s awesome to see them rewarded for their hard work to date," Bloxham said.
"They’re both ready for the next step.
"They are very talented homegrown players with individual strengths that will add to our overall team.
"Emilie is very instinctive and hunts the ball well. She is deceptive and has good timing to intercept.
"Ella is steady and reliable which are great qualities when you need someone to finish off the goals. She works well in structure and doesn’t shy away from putting her hand up to get the job done."
Bloxham said the franchise was now reaping the rewards of the performance pathways established by Netball South.
"We want to be able to build our own depth for the next level.
"We want to be able to have more players ready to take the next step up. It’s always great when we can call on our own and keep developing them."
The duo’s selection would propel them into the high performance arena.
"It is a tough gig being a training partner. You come in fresh and eager and you leave a little bit more hardened to the realities of what it is like to be a high performance player. They train hard, they are immersed in all aspects of what the Steel contracted players do and it is demanding, but it is worth it," Bloxham said.
The team faces a "full on" preseason schedule from January 22 which will lead up to the first ANZ Premiership game against the Tactix in Christchurch on April 15.