A talented trio of southern netball’s young guns will be immersed in the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel squad next season.
Steel head coach Reinga Bloxham has named three official training partners to join the pre-season phase of the 2018 ANZ Premiership title defence – formidable defender Taneisha Fifita, 16, and twins Kate and Georgia Heffernan, 18.
All three players were members of the 2017 Netball South team which contested the Beko Netball League, while the Heffernans’ also featured in the South Island Secondary School title-winning St Hilda’s Collegiate team. Kate adds her dynamic speed to the midcourt while shooter Georgia shines under the goal post.
“They are all very talented and I’m really excited to have them as part of our programme,” Bloxham said.
“They’ve come through our Zone pathways so are home-grown players who have worked their way up through the ranks. That does foster belief amongst our emerging players and reinforces there is a tangible pathway to reaching our elite teams.”
Fifita hails from Oamaru whilst the Heffernans grew up in Tapanui and are now studying in Dunedin.
With players the calibre of Shannon Francois and Te Paea Selby-Rickit likely to be absent during phases of the pre-season due to Silver Ferns commitments leading up to the Commonwealth Games in April, the training partners have an important role to play.
“Having the Silver Ferns coming in and out during the campaign is quite disruptive so our training partners will provide some stability with the numbers we need to train effectively,” Bloxham said.
“They will be totally immersed in the whole programme to learn the ropes and see what it’s all about – they’ll definitely get to sweat, hurt, play, laugh and cry with the rest of the team.
“It really is a fantastic opportunity. Yes it’s tough and they have to work exceptionally hard but the rewards do come. Three of our Beko players from last season – Dani Gray, Olivia Bates and Aliyah Dunn – were seconded into the Steel squad at various stages and all earned full ANZ Premiership contracts for 2018 as a result,” Bloxham said.