A tale of two cities for Steel players
Co-coach Natalie Avellino does not have any issues with the Southern Steel's players being based in different cities.
This year, most of the Steel's squad lived in Dunedin, where they carried out regional training sessions with co-coach Janine Southby.
The Southland-based players worked with Avellino in Invercargill. However, things became difficult later in the season, when season-ending injuries to Courtney Tairi and Sheryl Scanlan left only three fit players available.
The players also met up two to three times per week as a team, in preparation for their weekend game.
That involved a lot of commuting for the players and coaches.
The Steel seemed to run out of steam late in the season, with the travel demands appearing to take their toll on the squad.
Avellino said she did not have a problem with the squad being scattered in two cities.
She believed the regional training session concept had worked well this season.
The players generally did their own individual conditioning and weight sessions, which meant they could train wherever was most suitable for them.
"I think we've made it work as well as we can," Avellino said.
"I think it's fine.
"We get great support from Invercargill and with the facilities we've got.
"We've got players in Dunedin with family and university commitments," she said.
"We've got to work within both groups and what's going to fit with the franchise."
Players in the Australian franchises often travelled more than an hour in the larger centres to get to their training base.
Avellino said the Steel's travel requirements were just a fact of life, and they needed to make the best of the situation.
"It's no big deal for me," she said.
"We'd try and limit [the travel], depending on where our games were. You can't help it."
Avellino, Southby and Steel chief executive David Bannister met recently to discuss player recruitment plans for 2013. Those talks will become more regular now the Steel season is over.
Top of the Steel's off-season wishlist are a quality goal defence and versatile midcourter.
Avellino said the franchise was searching for players who could made a difference at the southern franchise next year and were after greater court time.
"We definitely need a goal defence," she said. "There's no secret about that. Someone pretty mobile, who can keep up with a quick Aussie goal attack.
"We'll be searching the country far and wide."
Players of interest might include rising Silver Ferns' star Kayla Cullen, Mystics defender Jess Moulds and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic youngster Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick, who has spent much of the season on the bench.
However, the priority was to retain the core of this year's team, which showed promise early in the campaign, but suffered from a lack of depth when injuries hit later in the season.
As for the ANZ Championship finals, which start this weekend, Avellino believed there could be an all-New Zealand final between the Mystics and Magic.
"They should be where they are, with the players they've got," Avellino said of the two New Zealand franchise sides.
"The Mystics have certainly got the team.
"With the players they've got, they should go away and win it," she said. The Southland under-19 netball team will be playing off for spots five to eight at the national age-group championships in Auckland today.
Southland lost both their cross-over games yesterday against Wellington 39-17, and Counties Manukau email@example.com
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