The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel are set to push for a fourth consecutive Finals Series appearance in the upcoming 2020 ANZ Premiership.
The Steel completed an important piece of their campaign preparations alongside all ANZ Premiership teams at a pre-season tournament hosted by Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki last week.
The two-time ANZ Premiership champions improved throughout the tournament, finishing with two wins and two losses.
Head coach Reinga Bloxham said the tournament was a great opportunity to continue looking at new connections out on court.
“It’s always good to have the Ōtaki pre-season competition, just to give us those really solid and tough performances. I think that’s what we needed going forward to try and get a bit of court time, combinations and consistency,” Bloxham said.
“I think we finished really well, so it’s important we keep building on that momentum. In the next couple of weeks we have to up the ante, push our intensity and just try and execute everything at a faster pace, and think about solidifying the structures we’ve got and making sure that we absolutely nail them.
“A couple of stand outs so far have been Taneisha [Fifita] and Georgia [Heffernan]. Taneisha had a really solid tournament, every time she has taken the court she has made a real difference, she’s managed to turn over ball and has been a real physical presence. Georgia again has gone from strength to strength and just shown us that she can be a real option for us in that attacking circle so that’s really pleasing for us.”
The Steel were joined in Ōtaki by newly appointed assistant coach Wendy Frew, who enjoyed her first taste of match action in a different role.
“It was a really enjoyable weekend, it’s been cool to get on the bench. Some good learnings for me to take away in terms of my processes and what I need to give the girls at the breaks. There’s room for improvement but we put together some really good phases and things we can build on nicely into the season,” Frew said.
“We will go and revisit the game plans and see what areas we can improve on in training. We are 100% in on our game plan and knowing what our roles are individually and as a team.”
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel take to the court for their opening match of the 2020 ANZ Premiership season when they host Splice Construction Magic at More FM Arena in Dunedin on Monday 16 March.
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