Teenage netball sensation Taneisha Fifita has earned her first ANZ Premiership contract and will be a permanent addition to the defensive ranks of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel next season.
With a netball prowess which belies her youth, Fifita adds a new dynamic to the Steel line-up and is joined by Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood as the latest confirmed signings for the 2020 ANZ Premiership.
The trio joins shooters Jen O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin from Trinidad and Tobago, on the roster.
An official training partner with the franchise for the past two years, Fifita’s promotion into the team is testament to the strong performances she has executed when given the opportunity as a replacement player during the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
“I’m really excited to start a new chapter,” she said. “I’m not feeling nervous because I already know the team. I’m just really keen to take another step up and learn as much as I can.”
Fifita’s whole family is venturing south from Oamaru to Invercargill.
“It will be a good change and it will be nice to have my family around me.”
Fifita earned three caps with the Steel during 2019 and relished the chance to test her mettle against some of the country’s leading shooters.
“I really like the physical side of the ANZ Premiership games. It’s a new and different experience,” she said.
“I do feel the pressure sometimes but I just try and do what I do and not think too much about it.”
She was eager to continue developing her skills under the tutelage of Selby-Rickit, who has notched up over 150 elite games.
“I feel really honoured to play alongside her to be honest. It’s really cool to learn so much from her and Abby,” Fifita said.
In turn, Selby-Rickit was equally as excited to see new talent of Fifita’s calibre emerging in the game.
“We’re really stoked to have Taneisha on board permanently and it bodes well for netball to have young talent like her coming through,” she said.
“She adds a fantastic energy and it will be great to see her continue to evolve her game.
“When you’ve been around a while, there comes a time when part of your role is to share your knowledge with the next generation of players coming through and that’s an aspect I’m really enjoying.”
Erwood had a stellar 2019 season, cementing her place in the starting line-up and earning both the Most Improved Player and the team’s Medal of Honour at the end-of-season awards.
“It’s very humbling to receive that acknowledgement from my team-mates. I had a blast in 2019 and I’m focused and committed to improving my form and skills even more next season,” Erwood said.