Southern Steel have lost out in their bid to bring skipper Megan Dehn back for next season, with the experienced shooter shifting to the Northern Mystics.
The 35-year-old Dehn contemplated retirement after this year's trans-Tasman netball competition, which led Steel to sign former Australian international Natasha Chokljat as their overseas import. Dehn later decided she wanted to return to the court in 2011 with the Australian, applying for New Zealand citizenship to be eligible for Steel. Those efforts proved unsuccessful, however, with Steel running out of time.
Steel chief executive Julie Paterson said they were disappointed they had not been able to re-sign Dehn, but said they had done everything in their power to try to bring her back.
"It was a very lengthy process. We were very confident at the start, but ran out of time and ran out of options."
Dehn was offered a role with Steel for next season as a specialist shooting coach, but had decided against that and signed for the Auckland-based Mystics.
Paterson said Dehn had been a fantastic contributor for the franchise and was gutted to see her leave. "I'm really sad to see Megan go. She's been an outstanding player for our franchise the last couple of years. We wish her all the best."
Steel finalised their 2011 squad yesterday by adding the signatures of teenage shooters Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Sophia Fenwick.
Selby-Rickit, 18 – who is the younger sister of Steel defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit – is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in New Zealand netball having played for the New Zealand under-21 and New Zealand schoolgirls sides before. She plays for Otago at present, in the national championships, and has been part of Steel's preseason squad in the past.
Fenwick, 17, is in her final year at Rangi Ruru Girls' School in Christchurch and was called into the Canterbury Tactix squad earlier this year. She was a member of the New Zealand under-21 side this year and has also been part of the New Zealand schoolgirls team.
Yesterday was a busy one on the ANZ Championship signing front. English defender Geva Mentor has moved from the Adelaide Thunderbirds to the Melbourne Vixens. Steel's Jade Topia and Canterbury's Victoria Smith will turn out for Central Pulse next season, while Tactix have snared Jamaican defender Kasey Evering and the Mystics' Finau Pulu.
SQUAD FOR 2011
Shooters: Daneka Wipiiti, Paula Griffin, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Sophia Fenwick. Midcourt: Liana Barrett-Chase, Natasha Chokljat, Wendy Frew, Hayley Saunders. Defenders: Leana de Bruin, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Sheryl Scanlan, Erika Burgess.
- The Southland Times