Rasmussen learning new tricks
One game stands out on Southern Steel's list of 2013 fixtures for Rachel Rasmussen.
The former Silver Ferns and Northern Mystics circle defender has already put a ring around Steel's round six match against the Mystics in Invercargill.
It will be Steel's first game of the season at the Stadium Southland velodrome but could also mark a special family reunion, with the 28-year-old turning out for her new franchise against her younger sister Grace, who is on the comeback trail with the Mystics after a stress fracture in her ankle.
"The first time we played against each other - she was at wing attack and I was at goal keep - was when I was a replacement at Pulse. It was quite hard looking across the court and seeing my sister," Rasmussen said.
"We've pretty much played together since she was 15 and I was 17. It's always really hard but I'm sure once the whistle goes there'll be no sisterly love in there."
It will also be a test of the extended Rasmussen family, who are expected to arrive in Invercargill en masse for the game.
"I've told them that unless they are wearing Steel gear they aren't staying at mine, so they have to make sure they leave their Mystics gear at home."
Rasmussen was not a high-profile signing for Steel during the off-season but she could become an integral part of the squad.
Now 28, she has been playing at the top level since she was 16, having played for the Auckland Diamonds in the old Coca-Cola Cup and with the New Zealand under-21 team when she was barely old enough to drive.
Her netball maturity will be important for a young defensive combination looking to the future after losing Demelza McCloud in the off-season.
"We do have a young defensive end and right throughout the court. As much as I can I'll pass on my knowledge and experience but I'm also picking up some good tricks from the young ones as well," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen remains very much an Auckland girl.
Apart from a stint playing in Wellington as an injury replacement, she has played all her netball for Auckland teams and copped her share of ribbing when she announced she was coming to Invercargill.
For now the puffer jackets she initially bought for life in the south have barely been worn and, with the season still fresh and new ahead of the opener against the Queensland Firebirds on Sunday, the vibe is positive.
"It's very different to Auckland but I'm really enjoying it so far. Probably the biggest thing is missing family at the moment. I come from a big tribe so I'm missing not having everyone popping in all the time."
- The Southland Times