Young Steel side provides test for Ferns

Silver Ferns goal attack Grace Kara (nee Rasmussen) controls the ball as Southern Steel goal keep Taneisha Fifita looks on during the training match at the Edgar Centre yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Silver Ferns goal attack Grace Kara (nee Rasmussen) controls the ball as Southern Steel goal keep Taneisha Fifita looks on during the training match at the Edgar Centre yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Connor
The doors may have been closed, but the Silver Ferns and Southern Steel did not hold back in yesterday's training match.

The two sides played each other at the Edgar Centre yesterday morning, as part of a week-long camp the Ferns are holding in Dunedin.

It was a young Steel side in action, but one that was able to make the Silver Ferns work hard as they continue their Commonwealth Games preparation.

Indeed, it was an outing that pleased Silver Ferns coach, and former Steel coach, Janine Southby.

Her side ran out winners, although the team's management would not release a final score.

''It was a good hit-out for us,'' Southby said.

''We've been working on a few things, both on court and off court, and I thought we made some progress in those areas, so that was good.

''The Steel provided us a really good hit-out. They were very competitive, so I thought it was a great opportunity for us to be tested.''

Being a local to the city, Southby was enjoying holding the camp in Dunedin, as were Shannon Francois and Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

The team had wanted to get around the country, so was holding camps in both Dunedin and Wellington, as well as Auckland.

Those camps were important in that they provided the team with the opportunity to spend time working on what they needed to.

That included both on-court and off-court issues, with holding each other accountable a key focus.

That would ideally see the side tidying things up quickly, rather than letting them get into a hole.

Despite being disappointed with recent results - including a 67-48 loss to Australia in the Northern Quad Series - the belief remained the team could win a gold medal.

''We know we can do it; we've done it and we've shown it in parts of every game,'' she said.

''I've said it consistently, it's that stupid stuff that we do to ourselves is the biggest issue.

''Every time we go and look back over games we just go 'oh my god, that was dumb'', stuff we can control.

''So that's the part we're working to control and part of that is you've got to keep the ability to challenge yourself and challenge each other.

''That's certainly the biggest focus for these guys.''

It also brought plenty of pressure from a personal perspective. However, that was something Southby was not shying away from.

''It's a challenge and you absolutely do feel the pressure.

''But we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and that's first and foremost what we hold ourselves accountable to.

''We've got a really young and exciting group and I know that when they string it together and do it consistently they'll take anyone.

''I absolutely still believe in that. I've never lost the faith or belief.

''The thing is you've got to learn and you've got to keep looking forward and that's what we're working on.''

The team would continue a busy week of training today, with more matchplay planned for Thursday and Friday.

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