Southern Steel round out squad with midcourter

Last updated 05:00 19/08/2014

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The final piece of thepuzzle has been added for Southern Steel.

The Invercargill-based trans-Tasman netball organisation filled the final place in its 12-strong squad yesterday with the announcement Silver Ferns squad member Katarina Cooper would join the team for the 2015 season.

Cooper is a replacement for Phillipa Finch in the midcourt after Finch decided to head back to Christchurch fulltime.

Finch, Jodi Brown, Erena Mikaere and Rachel Rasmussen are all players from this year's squad who will not return in 2015 for various reasons.

The four replacements are Cooper, Sophia Fenwick, Brooke Leaver and Jane Watson.

Cooper has made the move from Central Pulse and has set herself some lofty netball goals.

She believes Southern Steel is just the place to achieve them.

"I'm really looking forward to the change and coming into a new environment," she said.

"I'm going to be open-minded and just give it everything I've got. I have things I want to achieve and in order to do that I know I have to work hard for it.

"I need to move on and find myself again and get that hunger back in a new team."

Bursting onto the elite netball scene last year, Cooper was propelled into the national squad despite limited trans-Tasman experience, with a nasty ACL injury cutting short her 2012 campaign with the Pulse.

"I worked really hard to come back from that," she said. "Adversity . . . has the ability to shape who you are as a player."

Despite earning just one test appearance for the Silver Ferns, Cooper is motivated to add to her international tally.

"Watching the girls away for Commonwealth Games, it gets you thinking ‘that's where I want to be'. That's my pathway . . . I don't want to give up on it."

The shift south from her home in Otaki, near Wellington, won't be without sacrifice. Son Hennessey, 9, and daughter Maika, 7, will remain at home with family.

"The idea is to live down there and stay focused on what I need to achieve," Cooper said. "I'm going to miss them terribly but I have huge family support. I am a real home girl but I need to look at the positives."

Cooper grew up with Steel shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit in the small coastal community. "It will be nice having TP around - she's family and a piece of home."

While traditionally a wing defence, the 1.80m-tall Cooper has received rave reviews in the wing attack position but has plans to tweak her repertoire.

"I would like to work on my centre game, using my height as an advantage. I think I could really bring something exciting and unique."

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- The Southland Times

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