Francois has drive to succeed at Steel

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
Shannon Francois
CHRIS SKELTON/ Fairfax NZ
STEELY: Shannon Francois.

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Steel midcourter Shannon Francois' netball career has taken off like a rocket in 2013.

Despite struggling for court time with the Steel during this year's trans-Tasman competition, she was given a chance by New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu in a midcourt weakened due to the unavailability of Leana Leota and injury to incumbent Millie Lees.

Called into the Silver Ferns team for the Australian leg of the 2013 Constellation Cup fixtures, Francois hasn't looked back.

She earned her first cap against the Diamonds in the third test match in Adelaide, was part of the successful Ferns Fastnet team and will tour the United Kingdom as part of a 12-strong Silver Ferns team in January.

Alongside that she has been doing an internship at a Gore pharmacy and recently completed final exams for her pharmacy degree.

Just when you think it might be time to step off the netball merry-go-round, Francois has been part of the Steel's preseason buildup, which yesterday ntsGwithnteinvolved a camp in Dunedin ntsGwhich involvednte attended by all the players except for Jamaican-based Jhaniele Fowler.

''It's been a bit of a whirlwind year, but I've had a few weeks to reflect on it and it's been extremely exciting,'' she said.

Francois said her rapid progress in the second half of 2013 had given her plenty of drive heading into next year.

''It's definitely fueled my love for the game. I'm so excited about coming back to the Steel to put everything that I've learned into practise and get a spot in the team for next year.''

Francois will look to claim the wing attack bib for the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored team next season after Courtney Tairi did not have her contract renewed.

She said time spent with Silver Ferns veteran midcourter Laura Langman had been invaluable for her development.

''My knowledge of the game has grown heaps. I haven't really played a lot of wing attack so it was great to really nail down that role.''

The Steel team underwent fitness testing yesterday and will spend time on team building activities before the end of the camp tonight.

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