Tairi steeled for a return from injury
Southern Steel midcourter Courtney Tairi is making encouraging progress from knee surgery and is hopeful she will be ready to take the court for the start of pre-season.
Tairi's first season with the Steel ended after just six games when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee, while playing against the Northern Mystics in Dunedin.
The 24-year-old underwent surgery in late May and, after initially resting up, has begun the long and frustrating rehabilitation process.
She has slowly been strengthening the muscles in her legs in the gym and pool, and four weeks ago achieved an important breakthrough when she was cleared to start running again.
Tairi said she was pleased with where she was at with her recovery.
"Everyone is really happy with it. There's no swelling or any pain with my running. It's coming along really well.
"Hopefully, I'll get some court time in the pre-season games and gradually build it up to a full game across pre-season."
Tairi is no stranger to coming back from a serious knee injury after rupturing her left ACL in 2007. She said she knew what to expect with her recovery and not to push herself too hard, too soon.
The Australian-born Tairi, who spent three seasons with the New South Wales Swifts before linking with the Steel, is eligible for the Silver Ferns through her New Zealand parentage.
She was included in Netball New Zealand's accelerant squad before her injury, and said she was gutted to have her season cut short.
Tairi played for the world championship-winning Australian under-21 side in 2009 but said her allegiances were with the Silver Ferns: "Definitely. They're the ones who have given me a chance and have opened up their doors to me."
Despite the injury disappointment, Tairi said she had enjoyed her first season with the Steel this year and was looking to build on her performances in 2013.
"I loved it. Everyone is so lovely down south. The team and all our staff at the Steel were so great. The transition was pretty seamless.
"I'm very excited for next year. I feel like I have some unfinished business. I'm looking forward to hitting the court again with the Steel."
The Steel will field a relatively youthful side in next year's trans-Tasman netball league but their handy midcourt will include veterans Wendy Frew, Phillipa Finch, and youngster Shannon Francois, who recently received a Silver Ferns' call-up.
Otago NPC midcourters Gina Crampton and Stacey Peeters have also earned their first Steel contracts and Tairi believed there would be strong competition for starting spots.
While recovering, the Sydneysider has also been working with the David Wirrpanda Foundation which aims to improve the quality of life for indigenous youth by promoting positive role models and healthy life choices.
- The Southland Times