Boasting five Southern Steel players in its ranks, the Netball South Under-23 team will prove a formidable opponent.
Netball South has named a 12-strong squad to contest the national under-23 competition in Dunedin from July 7-10.
Coach Reinga Te Huia said she was happy with the team's potential.
"There was a high calibre of players which trialled and I'm really excited about the team we've selected," she said.
The talented lineup includes Steel defenders Storm Purvis and Phoenix Karaka, midcourters Stacey Peeters and Gina Crampton and shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit.
"We're fortunate enough to have those players spread throughout the court and the other players we've selected will slot in really well," Te Huia said.
"At the trial, the Steel players really stepped up and stood out amongst their peers, as you'd expect them to. But there are others knocking on the door ready to go and that's a real bonus for our zone." The team will undoubtedly be spurred on by memories of last year's heart-breaking one-goal loss to Waikato/Bay of Plenty in the final of the inaugural competition.
"It's definitely a motivator and I've heard some of the girls talk about it. But we need to remember this is a new team and a new year and we have to go through all those processes again and just keep in mind that's the end goal."
The under-23 team will compete in two pre-season fixtures - against an invitational team in Gore on June 15, and Mainland u23 in Oamaru on June 22 - before challenging its counterparts from New Zealand's other four zones in the tournament proper.
Netball New Zealand will trial new rules at the tournament, including a two-point goal from 3.5m and the centre position only being required to have one foot in the circle for the centre pass.
"I'm really looking forward to trialling the rules. It will add a bit of excitement to the tournament and add a new challenge," Te Huia said.
- The Southland Times