Brewing up a Storm for the new season
Young Southern Steel defender Storm Purvis is confident she can build on her encouraging rookie season in next year's trans-Tasman netball league.
Not many netball followers had heard of the 19-year-old before the start of the 2012 season, but a series of strong performances off the bench eventually won her a starting berth. She went on to start in eight of the Steel's 13 games.
Her year got even better in July when she was named captain of the New Zealand under-21 side.
Purvis, who was the third-youngest player in this year's competition, will be the only defender from this year's Steel squad to return next season. Former Silver Fern Sheryl Scanlan has retired, while Demelza McCloud and Louise Thayer will both be playing for new sides in 2013.
Purvis shapes as the early frontrunner to wear the starting goal defence bib next season, alongside either Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick or Rachel Rasmussen.
As a trans-Tasman league debutante, Purvis largely flew under the radar this season. Opposition sides will be much more aware of her skills next year, and Purvis said she was determined to develop her conditioning and strengthen all areas of her play over the off-season.
"Everyone says your second year in [the trans-Tasman league] is the real defining year for you because people have all these expectations. "Hopefully, I can just forget about that."
Purvis' meteoric rise this season was remarkable, considering she had not even previously played at national provincial championship level.
One of the biggest areas she was looking to improve for next season was her ability to operate at a high intensity for the full 60 minutes. At stages this year, the 1.86m Purvis went through quiet patches during games, and knows she needs to show greater consistency.
"It's something I'm still working on," she said. "At that level, you can't afford to have lapses or moments of doubt."
She acknowledged she needed to increase her rebounding count and work on the attacking element of her game as a goal defence.
"The biggest thing is the fitness side of things. You're doing so much more work at goal defence. It's so much more running.
"You have to be the main person to bring that ball through [from the back of the court]."
Steel coach Janine Southby, who is also in charge of the New Zealand under-21 side, said Purvis' growth as a player this season had been pleasing.
The youngster is still very much a work in progress and she hoped she would be able to lift her game to a new level next season.
"Storm has got a lot to learn and she's really keen to do that," Southby said.
"She's been working really hard on lots of areas of her game. The challenge for her now is, she's going to have to work harder to get herself back out there, and to compete and mix it with those big names."
The Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored Steel had a trying time of it this season, finishing second last in the competition after losing a franchise record 10 consecutive games to end their campaign.
Purvis believed the seven players returning for next season would be better off for those tough experiences and said the side was determined to create a winning culture.
"We're really looking forward to a few more wins next year, so watch out for that.
"We've got a few more experienced players in there. I think it's going to be a really good group," she said.
This year, Purvis juggled netball with her physical education studies at the University of Otago, which meant she needed to be smart with her time management.
She has decided on a change and will switch to media studies and English next year, in which she has studied first and second-year papers.
- The Southland Times