Southern Steel assistant coach Reinga Te Huia has been appointed to the helm of the Netball South under-23 team.
After getting a taste for the competition as assistant coach at the New Zealand age group championships in Wellington last year, the former Sting midcourter was eager to step into the lead role.
"I am excited about it and really looking forward to the campaign," Te Huia said.
The U23 squad will feature several familiar faces with Steel players Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Gina Crampton, Stacey Peeters and Storm Purvis likely to return for another crack at the title which eluded them by just one goal last year.
"That hunger and that want is definitely there. Even as an assistant coach, I know I was really gutted last year to lose by one goal. That's netball, but I know they really want that scalp," Te Huia said.
"The girls worked so hard and came so close and I know they are really eager to win the title so we will be doing everything in our power to make that a reality this year."
Te Huia, who has previously coached the Southland NPC team, is enjoying her role with the Steel.
"There's always so much more you can learn as a coach and it's a great environment to do that," she said.
It also presented a chance to work with Netball South's next tier of talented players - some of whom will earn selection in the U23 side.
"It's great having such a link between Steel and our development players. Working with the ones who have come into Steel trainings, you can see how they have evolved," she said.
The U23 team will be managed by Sarah Lloyd with Steel's Corina Ngatuere as physiotherapist.
Netball South high performance manager Jo Morrison said Te Huia was an ideal candidate for the U23 position.
"Not only does Reinga bring considerable experience to the role, she relishes any opportunity to progress her coaching skills even further and that passion is such an asset," Morrison said.
"Netball South continues to be focused on developing coaches from throughout our own zone by providing tangible pathways to these elite positions, so it's great to see Reinga achieve this appointment."
- The Southland Times