Talent crisis keeps Southland netballers at home

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
REINGA TE HUIA: Southland netball coach.
REINGA TE HUIA: Southland netball coach.

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Southland netball have a player crisis on their hands with officials deciding they cannot name a team worthy of sending to the national provincial championships in Auckland later this month.

After Southland coach Reinga Te Huia conducted trials last month she expressed a concern to the Invercargill Netball Centre - a major player in organising the Southland team - that she felt they did not have enough quality players to attend the tournament.

The Invercargill Netball Centre agreed with Te Huia, feeling the strength of the side wouldn't justify the financial outlay.

It is a big blow for Southland netball who has been a major player in New Zealand netball over many years.

The impressive record included Southland winning the national provincial title in 2008 under the guidance of Natalie Avellino.

Four years later Southland's sole representative team at a senior national tournament will be the Southland men's team who will head to Rotorua next week.

Te Huia said she mulled over the recommendation of pulling out for a couple of days before she put it to the Invercargill Netball Centre.

''Basically at the end of the day we didn't have enough players to put a team forward who have had that level of exposure. There was a lot of club players turn up [to trials] but you need to have players that are going to be competitive and are going to give you an edge.

"There wasn't enough of those players, especially in the shooting end,'' she said.

''I wasn't keen to take club players who I didn't think would be competitive enough against some of the top defensive players in the country.''

''It was a really tough call, but as the week went on it become evident. I was hoping that some how we could find some players to get a team there.''

Te Huia acknowledged the decision to pull the pin on entering the national championships was a concern for netball.

''It is a bit of a worry and I think it is a bit of a worry for a lot provinces, apart from the likes of Auckland who have a bigger pool to select from,'' she said.

A debrief will be held to try ensure this time next year Southland netball officials are comfortable they are in a position to send a team again.

Southland did produce a lot of good netball talent Te Huia said, but often they were lost to other provinces when they left school.

The Southland coach believed in the future they might need to look at pulling in some of those players who are now living elsewhere.

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Southland have a policy to select a team from players who are playing in the province but Te Huia felt they may need to change.

''When we do a debrief it is something I would need to bring up is the ruling around approaching players from other provinces, or bringing ex-Southlanders back in to play for the province.''

- logan.savory@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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