Steel signs Erena Mikaere
Southern Steel has bolstered its defensive ranks by signing Magic defender Erena Mikaere.
At 1.93m, the 25-year-old will inject valuable height into the Steel squad for its 2014 trans-Tasman campaign.
''I'm really excited to be joining the Steel and experiencing the culture I've been told about,'' Mikaere said.
''I had a few discussions with key people that influence my netball career and we wanted to make the best decision for the goals I want to achieve. Steel felt like the right fit for that.''
A member of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic for the past three seasons, Mikaere's court time was limited by the formidable pairing of Silver Ferns Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin.
''I've definitely grown as a player and a person by being their team-mate. I've learned a lot of their tricks over the years,'' she said.
Joining the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored Steel team would set her on a new pathway towards her ultimate goal of Silver Ferns selection.
''Every netballer in their heart strives to be a Silver Fern and I hope to one day play alongside my idols,'' she said.
Mum to three-year-old daughter Bileigh and completing her final year of a teaching degree, Mikaere said living in Invercargill also held an appeal.
''I lost my grandfather recently and he reminds me a lot of Burt Munro. I love The World's Fastest Indian movie so I'm sure being in Invercargill will invoke some fond memories,'' she said.
The addition of Mikaere completes a defensive unit which also features experienced campaigner Rachel Rasmussen and NZ under-21 representatives Storm Purvis and Phoenix Karaka, who claimed gold at the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow at the weekend.
The franchise now has 10 players confirmed for 2014, including Silver Fern Jodi Brown, Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler and NZ U21 star Te Paea Selby-Rickit on attack, along with midcourters Silver Fern Shannon Francois, Wendy Frew and Phillipa Finch.
Steel chief executive Sue Clarke said the 2014 campaign was taking shape.
''We have a vibrant and talented squad of athletes committed to the Steel which bodes well for a successful season ahead as we build on the momentum established this year,'' she said.
'As a franchise we are eagerly anticipating our return to Stadium Southland and transforming it once again into a fortress where opposition teams fear to tread. There are some great initiatives planned which we look forward to sharing with our supporters.''