The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel have bolstered their shooting ranks with former Tactix player Gemma Etheredge (nee Hazeldine) joining the group as an interim replacement player for Round 8.
Etheredge comes in as cover for Trindidad & Tobago shooter Kalifa McCollin who sprained her ankle late in the fourth quarter of Round 7’s win over the Northern Mystics.
Etheredge last played elite netball in 2016 as a member of the Tactix in the ANZ Championship before taking time away from the game to start a family.
She will join shooters Kalifa McCollin, Kiana Pelasio, Ellen Halpenny as well as Grace Namana for Round 8, with Pelasio and Halpenny both being named as permanent replacement players for Georgia Heffernan and Jennifer O’Connell who suffered season-ending knee injuries earlier this year.
Head coach Reinga Bloxham said while multiple injuries in the shooting circle had been tough, it was pleasing to be able to rely on the region’s pathway for assistance through Pelasio, as well Grace Namana who made her debut in Round 5, and Kate Hartley who has joined the side on the bench.
“I think it’s really important to be able to give young players in our Zone and in the pathway opportunities to come into the environment and learn what it’s all about. It’s also a really demanding environment where everything is about performance, so it’s really important to learn and grow and not just throw them into the lion’s den.” Bloxham said.
“With the way that we have had these injuries at the shooting end, we just wanted someone with a little bit more experience at top level to help us out. Gemma provides the same sort of game play as Kalifa, she’s really small and nippy and has that experience behind her.”
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel play two matches in Round 8, taking on the Robinhood Northern Stars in Auckland on Saturday and Splice Construction Magic on Monday night in Hamilton.
Round 9 brings a double-header in the Deep South with the Steel hosting the Northern Mystics on Friday 7 August and Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse on Saturday 8 August, with both matches at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
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