Four Southern Steel players have been included in the New Zealand under-21 team to the World Youth Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in August.
Steel have put a big emphasis on youth and developing players and the strong representation in the 12-person New Zealand squad highlights that.
The four Steel players included are Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Stacey Peeters, Phoenix Karaka and Storm Purvis.
Steel coach Janine Southby will also coach the New Zealand under-21 team.
After 3 years of planning and development, Emerging Talent selectors made the tough decision on the final team of 12 after putting the wider squad through their paces at a 10-day camp in Auckland at the end of January.
"The final makeup of this team is one of experience with an element of surprise," Southby said.
"Having a player with the skill and ability of Silver Fern Kayla Cullen is going to strengthen our midcourt, but I am extremely excited for young Emerging Talent development squad member Erikana Pedersen, who showed her determination and desire to make the team despite not being in the original under-21 wider squad.
"The bulk of these players are in the ANZ Championship team framework in 2013, proof of their calibre and the hard work undertaken to secure themselves the opportunity to represent their country." she said.
Historically, many players selected for the New Zealand World Youth Championships team have gone on to become Silver Ferns. The likes of current Silver Ferns Casey Kopua (nee Williams) Maria Tutaia, Laura Langman, Katrina Grant, Grace Rasmussen and Anna Thompson were all part of the 2005 World Youth Championships gold medal-winning team.
New Zealand Under-21s: Sophia Fenwick, Gemma Hazeldine, Malia Paseka, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Kayla Cullen, Nadia Loveday, Nicola Mackle, Erikana Pedersen, Stacey Peeters, Phoenix Karaka, Storm Purvis, Zoe Walker.
- The Southland Times