Young talent's re-signing gives Steel a boost
The re-signing of New Zealand U21 star Stacey Peeters and fellow midcourter Gina Crampton completes the Southern Steel's 2014 squad.
The addition of Peeters and Crampton, hailed as two of New Zealand netball's brightest future talents, bodes well for the future of the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored franchise.
Peeters, who played an integral role in New Zealand's gold medal win at the World Youth Championships in Glasgow last month, was confident her experience in the international arena would have an impact for Steel.
"It's not just the learning on the court, it's learning about myself as an individual as well. I'm going to go into next year's campaign both physically and mentally stronger and I do feel I will be able to contribute more as a result of that incredible experience in Glasgow," she said.
"It's nice to be asked back to the Steel and it's another year to build on what we created which I'm really excited about. We're such a close knit team and I'm a person who thrives in that type of environment."
Representing the Steel was a dream come true for Peeters, who is staunchly proud of her Southland heritage.
"When I tell people I'm from Gore they usually chuckle, but I've accomplished so much from that town because of the support I've received. It's nice that I can give that community something else to be proud of," she said.
Crampton, a member of the Otago team which will defend its Lion Foundation National Championships in Dunedin from September 30, was eager to continue her development with the aim of securing more court time with the Steel.
"Last season it was really good to just be there and soak up everything that was going on and learn from our experienced players. I really want to build on that and it will definitely be an aim to get some court time if the opportunity arises," she said.
The Steel have achieved their off-season goal of retaining the nucleus of this season's squad with 1.93m former Magic defender Erena Mikaere the only new signing heading into the campaign.
"Other teams will have work to do in establishing their combinations and I believe we will be a step ahead and in a strong position to simply build on ours," Peeters said.
The Steel team to contest the ANZ Championship also features Silver Fern Jodi Brown, Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler and NZ U21 star Te Paea Selby-Rickit on attack, midcourters in Silver Fern Shannon Francois, Wendy Frew and Phillipa Finch and experienced campaigner Rachel Rasmussen joined by NZ U21 defenders Storm Purvis and Phoenix Karaka.
Steel chief executive Sue Clarke said finalising the full roster in advance of the September 30 deadline was satisfying.
"This will allow us to now fully focus our attention on the 2014 season," she said.
"Planning is already under way and we are very excited about the potential of this team."
The Southland Times