Steel look forward to 'testing' in Melbourne
Southern Steel skipper Jodi Brown's combination with Jamaican international Jhanielle Fowler will be put under pressure this weekend when the team takes part in a pre-season tournament in Melbourne.
Fowler was the franchise's big offseason signing and her arrival has gone some way to making up for the departure of Donna Wilkins.
While the Steel will look to the Melbourne tournament to bed in combinations all over the court, the ability of Brown and Fowler to work together in the Steel's shooting circle will determine whether the team is able to improve on last year's ninth-placed finish.
"It's really exciting, she's really tall and she's a good asset back there," Brown said of her new shooting partner.
"The combination just doesn't happen overnight and I'd say that it's not quite there.
"She's amazing the ball that she can take - it's flying out the back of the court and she's twisting herself inside out to take it - but there's some work-ons there and hopefully it will be right for the start of the season."
Brown said that there would be some give and take as the team learned how best to use their Jamaican star, who will be the tallest player in the competion when the trans-Tasman league starts next month.
"It's a little bit of her getting used to me, learning how to take my fast balls," Brown said.
The Steel head to Melbourne tomorrow for an intensive workout which will include six games in three days.
Having improved from where they were at the same time last year, the Steel would look to capitalise on those gains, Brown said.
"The offseason has been great this year," she said.
"We haven't had as many injuries as we had last year and with 14 [players] it feels like there's heaps of people at training.
"I think we are a step ahead of where we were last year," she said.
"Last year everything was new, from the coaches and management down to the players.
"I think that, this year as players, we've taken it on board to lead some of the programme ourselves.
"We are good, but we haven't been tested in a game environment, so Melbourne will help with that."
The Steel will have three main aims they hope to achieve this weekend, Brown said.
"The big thing we want to get out of Melbourne is to test the combinations we've been working on to see how they go under pressure," she said.
"We'll expose our new players to that ANZ championship level, because it's quite a different level and just come away from the weekend knowing we are on track with our gameplans and strategies."
The Southland Times