Steel must put focus on playoffs - Tairi

IN CONTROL: Courtney Tairi in action for the Southern Steel.
IN CONTROL: Courtney Tairi in action for the Southern Steel.

Courtney Tairi can't win.

The Sydney-raised Southern Steel midcourter speaks down the phone line from Auckland with an Aussie twang, but when she heads back to Australia she gets a hard time about her Nu Zulund accent.

Tairi was in Auckland for the filming of Maori Television's sports show Code last night, sharing a couch with South African boxer Francois Botha and his son Marcel.

It follows an appearance on a netball magazine show a couple of weeks ago, but there's no doubt Tairi would prefer to be on court rather than on set.

And it's on court where Tairi has been so impressive this season, blazing a comeback trail after her 2012 season was ruined by a knee injury.

"I really am enjoying it. I'm going along a lot better this year than I did last year with my injury, obviously," she said.

Tairi is feeling no lingering effects from the ACL tear in her right knee, especially now that her confidence has returned.

"The more I get out there, the better it gets and the more confident I get on it."

Tairi had a similar problem with her left knee five years ago, so knew what the rehab would require and how hard she would have to work to get out on court.

She's since become a fixture in the wing attack bib for Steel, one of the key players as they made a midseason run for the playoffs which has taken a blow with two consecutive losses.

Tairi said the Steel knew what they needed to improve on to halt their losing run against the Canterbury Tactix in Dunedin on Sunday.

"I think probably just consistency, and playing a full 60 minutes. In each of our games we've dropped off, whether it's two or three minutes, or even a bit longer and we've let the other team catch up to us and even get a bit of a run on us."

The team were particularly disappointed with Sunday's loss to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty, a game they led by seven goals during the second quarter.

Twelve months ago this Steel team would have been content with losing to the trans-Tasman league's defending champion by a handful of goals, but this season there was a palpable sense of an opportunity lost.

"We can't really worry about what other teams are doing, or get too far ahead of ourselves. We are pretty excited that we are in touch and knocking on the door with that top four. We are confident with the way we've developed during the season together and I thin our game and our understanding of each other does grow with each game."

Tairi, whose mother is from Invercargill and used to come to the southern city to visit relatives during holidays, has not spent a lot of time thinking about possible Silver Ferns selection, despite grabbing the attention of the national selectors last season before her knee injury.

"I try not to get too far ahead of myself. I'm just worrying about my role with the Steel. Come the end of the season, hopefully I've done enough to earn a position."

The Southland Times