Steeling for the season

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Southern Steel players gather for the team's induction at the ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Tuesday.

SOUTHERN Steel coach Reinga Bloxham explained to the recruits of 2021 just how parochial the supporters down south can be, at the team’s induction in Invercargill on Tuesday.

“They will say hello to you.

“They know who you are, they know who you all are.

“You are one of them.

“They own you. They will check what’s in your trolley at the supermarket and they will ask if you are allowed to eat that stuff.”

Bloxham advised the players to embrace the supporters and to embed themselves in the community.

“Because they will stand behind you, no matter what.

“If you don’t have a pink and blue dress on, they will not like you.”

Five new players join the team this year with English player Georgina Fisher, former Te Wananga o Raukawa Pulse players Renee Savai’inaea and Tiana Metuarau, Magic training partner Ali Wilshier and former Sunshine Coast Lightning player Sarahpheinna Woulf all joining the squad.

As part of the induction process, Bloxham, explained the history of the team — the coaches who had brought them to this point and the players who had worn the dress.

It was this legacy these players were now joining.

“There is no other person that epitomises the Steel more than Wendy Frew,” she said while a photo showing Frew throwing a victory fist pump was up on a big screen.

Bloxham talked about the good times, when the team got it right, and also when things weren’t so great.

She also continued the messages of hard work, community, team culture and performance as she spoke of previous players and coaches.

While the team culture had always been strong, there was a time when winning seemed to evade the side, she said.

This was down to the team’s performance culture.

It was when, now Silver Fern coach, Noeline Taurua joined the team in 2016 this drastically changed.

“She knew the people here loved netball, they were passionate about it and she wanted to be a part of it.

“We went from nearly winning, to winning.”

Bloxham said the benefit of being on the coaching team with Janine Southby and Taurua as well as being coached by Sting and Steel stalwart Robyn Broughton for 10 years of her playing career, meant she was able to take the best bits from all coaches to help the team to victory.

Bloxham made the message quite clear to players that it wasn’t going to be easy.

She put up photos of training sessions one of them included a bucket in the picture

“It’s your turn to step in front of all those other players that have gone before you.

“You have to be prepared to do the hard work and have the difficult conversations.

“You have a chance to be empowered and empower those women around you and contribute to the legacy of Steel.”

  • Southern Steel will play its first ANZ Premiership game against Mainland Tactix at 6pm on Sunday, April 18, ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

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